Film criticism is more naïve than Drive when it accuses it of clichés. Drive goes intentionally into these stylistic connotations, “the purveying of imaginary and stereotypical idealities,” as Jameson translates Roland Barthes (another author who detected, anticipated, aestheticized, fetishized all of this). It drives precisely through the ambiguity of the exhausted and inexhaustible advertising verb to drive.
The kicker is an arresting performance by Albert Brooks as an oddly likable villain, the kind of guy who tries to calm you down after slashing your wrists. Brooks adds some needed zest to what is essentially a glossy and entertaining but empty exercise.