There are a number of descriptive terms that I dread hearing about a film. The first is that of any American film considered "avant garde action" and I typically figure that most of the praise is from the Godfather Trilogy zombies who somehow managed to pry themselves away from their shrines only long enough to consume the message boards of various movie sites.
Ah... but the worst tag any film can get is that of "Neo-Noir". As that description covers everything from Batman Begins to rape-revenge films bordering on snuff... I figure that on ether side of the scale I'll be left wanting to run from the theater screaming.
I say all that because "Drive" is a very stylish action film that pays homage to the great Neo-Noir films of the 80's. This is done without some type of hyper-real over stylized mockery or any sense of irony. No, there is no 'director's inside joke' to get with this film... or ironic take on another film or anything else that, unless you follow the directors blog, you just simply won't understand. If there is a message behind this film it is simple "Don't you remember when movies used to be good?".
Instead here is an action film that feels very much like an 80's film. From the Mad Max-like main character with no-name to the staging the of the sets reminiscent of early Cohen Brothers.
The script as a whole only gives us enough information to present a cohesive film. There isn't the need to over embellish the storyline for Oscar sympathies or the attention deficit crowd.
So in conclusion, yes... Mr Refn, I do remember when films used to be good and I'm glad you made one hell of a beautifully crafted piece of work.