Drive made good money at the box office, considering its budget; an ad campaign which emphasized romance and action evidently drew people in. But the people drawn by and large weren't happy. So notoriously deceptive was the film's trailer that an American woman filed a lawsuit against FilmDistrict, the distributor, claiming to have been intentionally mislead. Meanwhile Cinemascore, a polling house that measures audience satisfaction, lists Drive as a fairly pitiful C-, indicating that most people who saw the film hated it.
Personally I'll always cherish having seen it opening weekend, when a man in the front row, fed up with a particularly languorous long take, shouted "Do something!" at Gosling's emotionless face on screen.
Were they in the wrong, or did the aura of Drive -- the music, the costumes, the title cards, the slowed-down machismo -- dupe pop culture? I know many critics -- myself included -- who praised the movie quite rapturously when it was released but who have cooled on it somewhat in the five years since. The glossy panache that once made it appealing began to look chintzy, and what once seemed like an effort to undermine sensationalism now looks like sensationalism proper. In retrospect the whole thing feels pretty thin. Probably even its most fervent admirers will concede it's not the classic it once briefly seemed. As time goes on Drive may simply enter the "college canon," sitting alongside Donnie Darko and Fight Club as an inoffensive, entry-level art movie for cinephiles in training.