Drive revels in sensory detail; it's a visually and aurally edgy Euro-influenced American genre movie about the coolness of noir-influenced American genre movies about the coolness of driving - especially in L.A.
Gosling and director Nicolas Winding Refn neatly manage the hat trick of paying homage to those wheelmen of yore while reinvigorating the genre with style, smarts and flashes of wit.
Though it easily surpasses most American action flicks, it suffers from the old commercial imperative of making the protagonist a nice guy, something Refn has seldom bothered with in Europe.
Think of "Drive" as the cinematic equivalent of riding in a car that projects a fashionably stylish image. Sure, the gas mileage may be terrible and the engine unreliable, but it's such a smooth, good-looking ride that you'll put up with the annoyances.