Drive Angry

If anything, Drive Angry echoes a sentiment made centuries ago - Awake, arise or be for ever fall'n...Nicholas Cage!

Considered one of mankind’s greatest works of literature, John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ is an epic reference to the battles of good versus evil and ultimately, the ever widening fissure between Heaven and Hell. Having said that, if Milton was around today, you can be sure he would have sued the film makers for total desecration of his work, even if it is just a suggestive theme. Adding insult to injury is scripting John Milton as a character out of hell. Believe me, it was no surprise (or excitement) to see Nicholas Cage play Milton, a condemned soul who breaks out of Hell to avenge his daughter’s death and rescue his granddaughter from a satanic cult. If that does not make sense to you, this film won’t. Seriously, who breaks out of hell to do a good deed? If people are in hell for all the bad things they did, why bother to do any good now? So anyway, Milton runs after Jonah King (Billy Burke), a cult leader who believes in sacrificing Milton’s granddaughter to invoke the immortal powers of hell. Joining Milton on his quest is a small town waitress played by Amber Heard. As Piper, I have no idea what Heard’s real role is in the movie. Probably, and this is my biased assumption, that every movie featuring classic, muscle or custom made cars, must be complemented with a hot babe with bare legs as one of the characters in on the joy ride. Think about it, one of the few good films cage starred in was Gone In Sixty Seconds. Who is the only female actor in that film opposite an all-male star cast? Angelina Jolie. Then you have a curvy Megan fox in a very yellow Chevy Camero in the first two Transformers films. Speaking of cars, the film pays homage to the yesteryears of American muscle back. Expect to see a 1969 Charger, a 1972 Chevelle, a 1957 Chevy and many more rev through the action.

With repute in B movie horror thrillers, this was director Patrick Lussier’s big budget break. What fails him is the utterly gutted screenplay. Having co-written the script, I don’t see why anyone else should be blamed for this travesty. With a short history in writing B movie scripts like Dracula, followed by sequels II and III, how much more can you expect in terms of a thrilling plot? What he did do differently, is shoot the film using live action 3D. That means filming with cameras made for 3D, rather than post-converting footage into 3D. What’s the difference? Except for slightly improved three-dimensional clarity, nothing to write home about. But then again, 3D films have been around for almost five decades. So what we are left with is just a gimmick, or a ploy to experience an over the top, uninspiring piece of garbage with some of the corniest one-liners ever seen or heard on film. Then it gets worse; Extreme blood and gore, over-the-top explosions, unnecessary nudity and abusive language. And all for what? According to Lussier, “A little bit of fun”.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment for this reviewer is having to see Nicholas Cage in another meaningless role. I used to think of Nicholas cage as a method actor- the ability of an actor to build into the flesh and blood of the character portrayed, even before and after the actual filming. But that used to be a long time ago. Given his recent choice in leading roles, method acting gets a kick through the window. The writing on the wall? The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Season Of The Witch were tell-tale signs of a downward spiral in terms of film choice. But before I call off the artillery barrage, I should also mention William Fichtner. Remember that wise-guy FBI agent hot on the heels of Prison Break siblings Michael Scofield and Lincoln Burrows? Well guess what, after four seasons of Prison Break, Fichtner couldn’t get enough. Hot on the heels of John Milton, he plays “The Accountant”, Hell’s warden, in the guise of an indestructible human. On a positive note, Fichtner’s character has some cool moves and is the only person who seems to possess some sanity. Everything else goes to hell and stays there.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

About Lloyd Bayer

Besides his passion for travelling, photography and scuba diving, Lloyd is a prolific film critic having contributed hundreds of film reviews to web and print journals, including IMDb and local daily Khaleej Times.