DRIVE ANGRY - Sequel to Ghost Rider?
DRIVE ANGRY (action thriller)
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Billy Burke, David Morse, Katy Mixon, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Charlotte Ross and Christa Campbell
Director: Patrick Lussier
Screenplay: Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier
Time: 104 mins
Rating: * * (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: Remember the 2007 Ghost Rider in which Nicolas Cage played Johnny Blazes, the daredevil biker who made a pact with the devil? Well, for Drive Angry, just imagine that Johnny Blazes has reincarnated into John Milton, a guy who escapes from Hell - and is hellbent on rescuing his grand-daughter from the clutches of a satanic cult.
Or, better still, pretend that this is the sequel to Ghost Rider and call it Ghost Driver! Indeed, you get the same ridiculous action and explosions as the 2007 version of the Marvel Comics guy - and with Cage (right) playing both roles, you can hardly tell them apart.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT? For a cheap sci-fi fantasy B-movie like this, it has to be about revenge. Cage's Milton is all out to avenge the murder of his daughter and, more importantly, to rescue her child from cult leader Jonah King (Billy Burke). Helping him in his quest is ex-waitress Piper (Amber Heard, below), a hot chick with a sleek American car.
However, Milton is being pursued by a 'man in black' who calls himself 'the Accountant' (quite aptly played by William Fichtner of TV's Prison Break).
HITS & MISSES: From the title (which was inspired by a line "Don't drive angry" from the movie Groundhog Day), you can expect another mindless testosterone-packed actioner incorporating hot chicks, souped-up cars, chases and explosive crashes. Director Lussier, who also co-wrote the script, is only interested in blowing things up - especially cars and human limbs. It looks like no attempt has been made to make the plot more realistic or even logical. Lussier piles up one ludicrous set piece after another - but none are inspired or original to impress. The scene of a shootout while having sex has been done before, while others are so idiotic that we don't know whether they are intended to make us laugh or cringe.
Acting-wise, this is another role that Cage can play in his sleep - and sometimes it looks like he is sleepwalking through it. Besides providing the requisite eye-candy, Amber Heard's Piper represents the only sane (or normal) person in the whole movie - and she is the only one that we can root for. Fichtner (right), whose character masquerades as an FBI agent, plays it tongue-in-cheek, winking knowingly at the audience in an obvious nod to his roles in Prison Break.
And the prize for the worst acting goes to Billy Burke, who seems to have fled the set of Twilight's Breaking Dawn, probably after having been bitten by a vampire.
THE LOWDOWN: I would have loved to recommend Drive Angry as a crazy cult flick like Kill Bill or Machete but it is just not even up to that standard. It is between moronic guy flick and just plain trash.