Friday, 27 September 2013

Drive Angry

Title: Drive Angry
Director: Patrick Lussier
Released: 2011
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Bill Burke, David Morse, Todd Farmer

Plot: Undead criminal John Milton (Cage) breaks out hell when he finds out that his daughter and her husband have been killed by Satanic cult leader Jonah King (Burke) who has also kidnapped Milton’s granddaughter who he plans to sacrifice as part of a Satanic ritual. Meanwhile an operative of Satan known as The Accountant (Fichtner) has been dispatched to bring Milton back.

Review: If you ever wanted to know how to automatically give me a lesser opinion of your film, release a trailer essentially consisting of grinning loons who got to see your film no doubt for free, while forcing them shout out sound bites of how much they supposedly love your film, while generally making claims that they have seen the “BEST FILM EVER!! No I didn’t just slip on the caps lock, but it’s probably the only way to capture on the page the grating enthusiasm for these comments that they see to bizarrely have for frequently awful films…but then perhaps this is the only film these folks have know ever! Alas this was the situation I found myself in as I entered into this film (see it wasn’t just random ranting) especially when all I could remember about this film was those awful adverts and the handful of intriguing snippets of action it contained.

Still no doubt the sheer sight of Nicolas Cage’s involvement in this film, will have most folks giving it a skip anyway, especially with Cage working his way out of his tax troubles and other debts by seemingly appearing in every film currently being made. True this has resulted in him taking on some of his more questionable roles, but it is hard to deny that when he does take on a role he digs he really is still an incredible actor, as “Kick-Ass” or “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans” are only further testament to. Sadly though this was not to be one of his better efforts, as he largely sleepwalks his way through this film while never seeming fully committed to the role, yet thanks to a largely no name cast his performance does give the illusion of being better than it is.

The cast director Lussier has assembled here as I mentioned are largely no name, with only half a dozen recognisable faces being drafted for the more dramatically involved parts I.E the ones not requiring you to run around randomly or just being kill count fodder. Sadly for some reason though he also skimped on the casting of the films big evil, as Burke never once feels threatening, despite Lussier frequently showcasing him doing various hideous acts, he still ends up coming off like a henchman than any real kind of threat to Milton. Thankfully the evil quota is partially saved by a scene chewing Fichtner who not only gives a performance with undertones of Christopher Walken but also seems to be having a blast as the relentless henchman of Satan “The Accountant” who is not only invincible but also rocks a sharp suit to boot, while also processing a penchant for coin tosses like Chigurh in “No Country For Old Men” for who both share a relentless devotion to their work. It’s just a shame that more wasn’t made of his role, rather than generally using him as another obstacle for Milton to overcome on the quest to rescue his Grandchild.

On equally strong form is Heard as he waitress Piper who unwittingly becomes Milton’s sidekick. Piper’s character though suffers like so many other aspects of the film from some clumsy characterisation which see’s her character randomly switching back and forth from helpless damsel in distress to ass kicking firecracker on a whim, which is frequently frustrating when you have scenes of her catching her cheating fiancé in bed with another woman who she proceeds to beat the hell out of, as she tosses her out of her trailer, only to then suddenly fall apart when it comes to facing off against her fiancé suddenly losing any of her awesome fighting skills she had only moments earlier, with the only reason being seemingly so that Milton can come and rescue her like a knight in grungy leathers.

As with Lussier’s previous film, the enjoyable remake of “My Bloody Valentine” this film was also released originally in 3D, which as with his previous film I never saw in 3D but rather the 2D conversion which does mean that the once 3D moments now stand out looking like cheap CGI. This of course is a minor issue and one generally covered by the fact that I don’t own a HD TV. Where the real issue is though is that Lussier uses the 3D format in what is very much an old school style in that it is more about the spectacle (and generally seeing what he can throw at the audience). On the plus side this lust for spectacle does occasionally play in the films favour, as it opens with Milton driving a muscle car out of hell, with finale seing Milton and Piper take on King’s army of redneck Satanists in an epic shootout, which includes also includes such highlights members of such as the random naked machine gun welding chick and cultists ablaze and still frenziedly shooting shotguns. Sadly for a film whose title and trailer which sells itself as being high on car smash excitement, feels largely sterile thanks to Lussier largely favouring green screen or over car rigs, which considering that he has a gearhead like Cage on the film seems like a wasted opportunity to have done more like “Gone In Sixty Seconds” for which Cage his own driving still stands a strong testament to his skills behind the wheel.     

Sadly this is far from the neo-grindhouse experience I was hoping for, especially when this is a film were whenever it manages to give the viewer something special I couldn’t help but feel that I had seen it done better before, leaving me with an ultimately hollow viewing experience with a prime example being its shootout during sex which honestly was done better in the underrated “Shoot em-up”, while the dialogue frequently comes off like someone doing a poor Tarantino impersonation. Maybe with the right setting this film could have been a more fun experience, but from this viewing I was left ultimately cold and largely irritated. As such I advise it as one to approach with caution even for Nicolas Cage completists like myself.


  1. I started this one years ago and have never gone back to it. Honestly not sure if I ever will.

    Good review though, and I whole heartedly agree with your assessment of Cage. He can almost get away with sleepwalking in these lesser films on his charisma alone... but his disinterest is so obvious at times.

  2. It is a strange one as while I hated it, other critics I like rave on about it. As I said though I think it's a film which relies heavily on the setting were you watch it.


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