Let's return to the summer of 2011, just moments before College and Electric Youth's "A Real Hero" spent a year dominating your car radio.
When director Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive premiered at the Cannes Film Festival that May, it was received warmly as a crackling genre-arthouse crossover -- a stylish and likable retro throwback. Drive impressed critics and wowed the punters. It made the kind of splash every independent film wants at the luxurious festival: the Best Director prize, a raucous standing ovation, a lucrative deal for American distribution.
When Drive opened theatrically that fall, reviews were ecstatic. "Pop art of the highest degree." "A reminder of how powerful the genre can be." "Some kind of masterpiece." It topped dozens of year-end best-of lists. It was nominated for hundreds of critics-guild awards. Certainly the movie had its naysayers and skeptics. But as indie action movies go, Drive was a hit.