Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Review: Drive Angry

It used to be a running joke that no actor could seamlessly go from an Oscar nominated movie to an utter piece of rubbish like Nic Cage.  It felt like he was literally alternating between critical acclaim and public scorn, but when he is good, he is very good.  I guess in a lot of ways, much of what I wrote about Adam Sandler during my Jack and Jill review (which you can read here) applies to Nicolas Cage.  It’s hard not to remember his work in movies like Leaving Las Vegas, The Rock, and It Could Happen to You, but sadly nowadays all you get are exercises in mediocrity (or worse) like Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Bangkok Dangerous, and Next.  Having watched Drive Angry, I can tell you that we can put another mark in the bad Nic Cage column and maybe it should count as two, because this film may be his worst ever.

The plot feels like a cross between Ghost Rider and Red State (director Kevin Smith’s worst movie) written by someone with a muscle-car fetish.  It focuses on Cage’s John Milton – (perhaps an attempt a not too clever literary allusion), who escapes from Hell (a glorified after-life penitentiary) to avenge his daughters death and save his infant granddaughter from a satanic cult.  Along the way he recruits the very lovely Amber Heard to aid him, because well…the casting directors probably felt Nic Cage would not be enough of a draw to peddle this nonsense (see official movie poster for verification).

This is movie is such a morass of awfulness that it is hard to know where to begin.  The plot is incredibly contrived and total drivel from start-to-finish with clever writing nowhere to be found.  I suspect that director Patrick Lussier (White Noise 2 – yes, they actually made a second one) knew this and decided to go over the top with explosions, gunfire, sex, violence, and bad southern accents to mask these deficiencies.  I am sure this plays in the 17-20 year old male demographic, but I am going to go out on a limb here and say most of kids in these circles are fast forwarding through 95% of this flick.

For Nic Cage, this is yet another movie where he plays someone with an association to hell seeking vengeance on someone with satanic ties.  I am no expert but if I were one of his advisos, I would tell him that it is time to move on.  But then I am sure a lot of his acting choices are driven by his much-publicized financial problems.  As for the rest of the cast, Amber Heard (The Rum Diary) is an amazingly attractive woman, but she is not much of an actress.  She has been cast in a couple of interesting roles, but has failed to make the most of her screen time.  As for the rest of the cast, William Fichtner, Billy Burke, and David Morse seem like they are trading off of their respective resumes as supporting actors in action films for one more paycheck. 

Well if you haven’t figured it out yet, I am not recommending this movie.  Not only should you leave it off your Netflix queue, but you should also run like the wind should the DVD even cross your path.  And if you are dating some who made the epically poor decision to see this movie, then you should break up with them.  It really is that bad. Here’s hoping Cage gets back to the National Treasure franchise at some point since it was good light-hearted fun, unless of course Cage’s Ben Gates’ next quest for treasure takes him to the depths of the underworld.  In that case, all bets are off.

Standout Performance: The cars since they can't be held responsible for the actions of the people driving them.


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