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"Drive Angry" Review

Remember when Nicolas Cage was an actor? He actually won an Oscar, but judging from the string of scenery-devouring B-movies he's been making, it's getting hard to remember when he wasn't a joke. Every few years, he'll make something decent like Matchstick Men, Lord of War, Kick-Ass, or Adaptation, but mostly it's been crap like The Wicker Man, Season of the Witch or Drive Angry here.

The premise and execution sound promising on paper: Cage plays John Milton (not the guy who wrote Paradise Lost, but same name, get it?), a man who escapes from Hell in order to save his granddaughter from being sacrificed by a Satanic cult who want to usher in Hell on Earth. (Why this kid? Never explained.) He hooks up with a hot sassy waitress played by Amber Heard and they head cross-country to save the baby, pursued by a mysterious man calling himself The Accountant (an awesomely creepy William Fichtner). Shot in 3D (and not post-converted), there are plenty of moments of stuff sticking out of the screen (note: I watched it on 2D video). It should be a fun grindhouse-style popcorn muncher but it doesn't gel into anything much.

Nailing an appropriate over-the-top tone is a trick that is harder to pull off than it looks. The Crank movies did it; Planet Terror did it; Shoot 'Em Up (from which a scene where the hero fights off attacking baddies while having sex is cribbed) was a live-action Bugs Bunny cartoon; but Drive Angry oscillates between trying to be arch Grand Guignol with oodles of CGI blood and gratuitous nudity - not that there's anything wrong with that - and a serious Satanic cult movie. It just doesn't work and at the end, it calls into question just what the Satanic cult led by Billy Burke was actually going to accomplish.

Cage is Picking Up A Check Cage here. 'Nuff said. Amber Heard is spunky and hot. (Too bad she's a lesbian in real life with a hotter girlfriend than you for the double fail, kids.) The best thing in the movie is Fichtner who sorta channels Christopher Walken's off-kilter vibe as the Accountant, telling people when he'll be seeing them next and the scene with Heard's crappy boyfriend is awesome.)

It's also shot in this hot, overexposed style which is frankly ugly and not in a good way. You know how terrible photos taken in the noonday sun look? Like that.

Score: 3/10. Watch it on a friend's cable.


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