Notable Cast: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Billy Burke, David Morse
Review: Let’s be honest, this is just another typical Cage role. A movie about a dude who breaks out of hell to hunt down the satanic cult leader that killed his daughter and stole his grandchild? Has to be Cage. Hey, at least his head isn’t on fire, right? Drive Angry promised an angry Cage, hot cars, smokin’ babes, torrents of ammunition being unloaded into religious wingnuts, some hard rockin’ tunes, and plenty of beer being drank out of skulls. Being headed by the ever so insane Nic Cage and the ever so steaming Amber Heard, the only question was could Drive Angry supply enough heart-pounding action to get past the overall quality of the film? Directed by Patrick Lussier, known for such timeless classics as My Bloody Valentine (2009)/Dracula 2000, this wasn’t Lussier’s first foray into dark thrillers. Drive Angry proves he learned from some of his mistakes, but still doesn’t achieve that full cult following status he wants Drive Angry to have.
In Drive Angry, poor Milton (Cage) is on a mission for revenge. His daughter was murdered by crazed satanic cult leader Jonah King (Burke) who also stole her daughter in the process to sacrifice during the next full moon in the hopes of releasing hell on earth. During his travels, Milton comes across the strong spirited Piper (Heard), a down on her luck southern gal with nowhere to go and a sweet ride. Milton hitches with the Florida bound Piper, under the agreement that he be dropped off in Louisiana at the last known site of Jonah King and his cronies. As if Milton didn’t have enough on his mind, a strange man known only as The Accountant (Fichtner) starts tracking him, to bring him back to his cell in Hell where he broke out of. Milton must reach Louisiana before the full moon in two days while avoiding The Accountant and his numerous attempts to thwart Milton’s plans. I guess the real question is…just how angry could Cage drive?
Pretty damn angry I’d say. I mean c’mon, anyone going to see this movie knows exactly what to expect, but also what they hope to see. Screw a competent and well written story. That’s not what the audience for a film like this is going in for. Trust me, I’m an avid fan of the over-the-top action genre, I know. Expectations have to be re-tooled for an experience such as Drive Angry. It’s all about the entertainment and how much fun you have with. How was the action? How was the dialogue? How was the humor? Well, Drive Angry thankfully didn’t take itself too seriously, as can be witnessed during the borrowed idea of a mash-up fight scene/sex scene from fellow action romp Shoot Em’ Up. Cage just keeps on truckin’ as he piles up the bodies in his hotel room, that’s right. But it’s this kind of attitude that allows the story to take these unrealistic turns in exchange for an extremely preposterous but memorable scene. It was great to see Cage in a role I could actually appreciate, channeling his legendarily stoic performance as Cameron Poe from the celebrated action classic Con Air. It was good old one emotion Cage at his best, but in a blessedly badass vein unlike his horribly phoned in emotionless performance from Season of the Witch. The film created some really awesome weaponry for Cage to use along with some fast paced and intense action scenes. But for the movie it tried to be, the action tended to be a little simplistic and a tad bit repetitive at times, not really getting to that next level of insanity. The entertainment factor was definitely there and there was plenty of fun for the action junkie, but Drive Angry was missing that pivotal moment where you’re blown away by that one scene you can’t erase from your mind the rest of the day.
Even though this will definitely go down as a “Cage movie” over time, my two favorite characters weren’t even the man himself. The Accountant, played by the unjustly underrated William Fichtner, had the perfect aura of egotism and invincibility, making his character extremely dangerous and unpredictable. The Accountant could say whatever he wanted, do what he wanted, and kill who he wanted with no remorse. He also had the whole “I know exactly when everybody is going to die” angle to pull out in conversation that for some reason never got old. Him saying “I’ll see you soon honey” actually meant something, which added a whole other spin on his threats. My other favorite character Piper, the ass-kicking female counterpart of Milton played by Amber Heard, avoids the stereotype of being a damsel in distress. When she starts wielding hoes and shooting cops, a wave of relief hit me knowing I wouldn’t have to be pissed off watching Cage waste time-saving a helpless broad instead of focusing on his mission. Not only was Heard stunningly gorgeous, but she was just as prevalent in action scenes, making Piper even more attractively awesome.
Drive Angry delivers a rockin’ good time sure to appease those die hard Cage fans looking for some redemption in his career. The guy will take just about any role, so it’s nice to see this didn’t knock his career down any farther. But guess what, it’s only in 3D, so you can add another movie to my list of films not worth the gimmick. Nothing was added to the experience by being “shot in 3D” as the movie boasts, and it’s just a waste of the extra few bucks the theater makes you pay. I’ll get past it though for my love of action, Cage, rock music, and William Fichtner. I so wanted this to be the first break out sleeper hit of the year, but Drive Angry falls short of achieving the status of such an action film like Machete or Crank. Still worth the watch, but not a genre buster for those expecting too much. I still don’t forgive Cage for his involvement in Season of the Witch, but Drive Angry makes it a little easier to swallow.
Final Rating: 7 skull beers out of 10