Reviewed by Andrew Kasch
Starring Nicolas Cage, Billy Burke, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Tom Atkins, Charlotte Ross
Directed by Patrick Lussier
Drive Angry is an obvious love letter to Race with the Devil and other crazed exploitation flicks of the 70’s and in many ways comes off like a feature-length “Supernatural” episode. Excess is the name of the game, and there’s barely a moment that doesn’t contain some sort of car chase, beat-down, gunfight or pair of breasts (sometimes all at once).
Nicolas Cage plays John Milton (get it?), an escapee from Hell in pursuit of the satanic doomsday cult who abducted his grandchild. Teaming up with a battered tough-as-nails waitress (Amber Heard), the two take off through the countryside, leaving a trail of bodies behind them. Not only do they have to contend with gun-toting cultists and the corrupt police force, there’s also an unstoppable agent of Hell (played gloriously by William Fichtner) on their ass, assigned by the Dark Lord himself to put Milton back in his cage.
Drive Angry is the second collaboration from Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer, and the two carry over a lot of the same elements from their 2009 version of My Bloody Valentine: We get more in-your-face 3D gore gags, Tom Atkins(!) as a tough-guy sheriff, Farmer’s bare ass, and another jaw-dropping action nude scene (courtesy of Cage and a fearless Charlotte Ross).
The cast is pretty good all around. Cage scales back his manic side to deliver a subdued badass that’s equal parts Snake Plissken and Mad Max while Amber Heard holds her own and proves that she can kick ass with the big boys. But it’s Fichtner who completely runs away with the movie as Hell’s “Accountant.” He gives the kind of slick, deadpan performance that people will remember for years. Hell, if they could just drop his character into every movie from now on, the world of cinema would be much better off.
Thanks to his experience on My Bloody Valentine, Lussier really knows how shoot 3D (no shitty post-conversion here) so this is one of the few big-screen movies where the gimmick works in spite of itself. Like most modern action movies, the excessive style and CGI tend to numb the action sequences, but it’s done with such a giddy sense of humor that it’s never boring. Besides, any movie that features Nic Cage drinking beer out of someone’s skull deserves a few extra points.
Aside from a few speed bumps in the pacing, you could easily throw this film on a triple bill with Crank and Shoot ‘Em Up for a night of mindless self-aware entertainment. Unapologetically low brow, Drive Angry is kind of like drunken sex with a sleazy stripper: It’s not something you fall in love with, but you’ll sure as hell enjoy yourself for a few hours.
3 1/2 out of 5
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