Drive Angry (2011)

Directed By: Patrick Lussier
Written By: Todd Farmer
Starring: Nicolas Cage
  Amber Heard
  William Fichtner
  Billy Burke
Drive Angry

Drive Angry is terrible. I doubt many of you are slapping hands-to-cheeks and screaming “No way!” at this news, but it’s actually more terrible than you expect. The trailers make it look like ridiculous exploitative nonsense, the plot sounds like Ghost Rider in a car and Nic Cage’s new hair guarantees at least five seconds of guffawing… but it’s worse than that. So much worse. It’s vile, boring in places and simply so incredibly shoddy it’ll make you resent paying even a penny for it… let alone a few extra quid for some 3D glasses. Please avoid.

Milton (Nicolas Cage) has escaped hell. It never explains how, but it involves a car. He’s come back to Earth to save his baby granddaughter, who’s been kidnapped by a bunch of disorganized Satan-worshippers. The child will be sacrified on the full moon and Milton must stop it before his entire lineage is wiped clean by a nutcase cult-leader called Jonah King (Billy Burke). He’s accompanied by Piper (Amber Heard) a kick-ass Texas waitress with a lovely-looking car, who joins him in his mission to save the baby.

Yet Milton’s escape from the fiery underworld prison has not gone unnoticed and Satan has sent The Accountant (William Fichtner) to collect him and return him to hell. So it’s a race against time as Milton pursues the baby-murdering cult whilst battling off the super-strong Accountant and a police force full of trigger-happy troopers.

This set up is insane, and should be fun. In fact, the entire film should be an incredible laugh, but somehow it isn’t. It’s like director Patrick Lussier and writer Todd Farmer gathered all the right ingredients together to make a pie and promptly burnt it until it caught fire. The charcoaled mess that remains is then served up in cinemas, along with a wonderful side dish (more on this side dish later).

The main flaws are everything; seriously. The script fails to play on the utter absurdity of it all, and instead sticks to rolling out some of the worst dialogue this side of hell. It’s sweary, dumb and incredibly childish. The music is annoying, with needless guitar riffs that repeat themselves over and over again, the characters are repugnant, the set-pieces pedestrian and the violence mediocre.

As for the film’s title: Drive Angry? Drive Like an Old Woman Going to Church, more like. If you’re expecting amazing car chases you’ll be severely disheartened, as the driving is slow, repetitive, bumbling and devoid of invention.

Whoever was in charge of continuity should have their soul destroyed – at one point Nicolas Cage’s eye wound moves from left to right! Costumes change randomly, blood splatter moves or disappears altogether and there’s an overwhelming sense of carelessness throughout. It’s frustrating, especially when you have to pay extra for 3D.

The 3D in Drive Angry is typically poor. Created by the team that brought us My Bloody Valentine 3D, it’s more of the same – axes lobbed at the screen, coins flicked at your face, explosions throwing scrap in our general direction. All this might be very impressive if it wasn’t so obviously fake; the CGI is abysmal throughout; from gunshot wounds to severed limbs and a clichéd version of hell, it’s all incredibly poor.

Overall it feels Drive Angry was created by an adolescent pervert with a love of muscle cars. Perhaps if deliberately done in the style of an 80’s exploitation film this might have come across as hilariously ridiculous – like Machete and Planet Terror – but because it seems without a larger sense of irony Drive Angry appears misogynistic, vile and absolutely puerile.

Perhaps if watched when incredibly inebriated with a group of like-minded friends, this could be a hilarious, laughable mess… but when you’re sitting in the cinema with a pair of uncomfortable plastic glasses jammed on your face, it’s anything but hilarious.

It is sad that Patrick Lussier has once again churned out an atrocious piece of unwatchable cack, adding to a woeful canon of work that includes My Bloody Valentine 3D, White Noise 2, Dracula 2001 and The Prophecy 3. This is incredibly worrying news for fans of Hellraiser, as both Lussier and his writer-buddy Todd Farmer are helming the forthcoming Hellraiser remake, probably in 3D. Maybe Nicolas Cage can play Pinhead?

Oh Nicolas Cage, what is wrong with you? After 2010 proved Mister Cage was still an excellent actor (with some awesome turns in Kick Ass and Bad Lieutenant) it appears 2011 intends to fully disprove this notion, as he follows the lackluster Season of the Witch with another by-the-numbers effort-shy action flick. With Ghost Rider 2 on the horizon, is there any hope for Cage’s future?

Amber Heard also continues to rack up as many horror-related films as possible, but she once again fails to really… act. It’s a personality-less role that leaves all her gusto to her action scenes, which mostly involve hitting things and getting knocked out. A weak show from Miss Heard.

You also have to feel a little sorry for Billy Burke, another of the film’s unfortunate “actors”. Best known for being Bella Swan’s oblivious daddy in the Twilight films, he can now add Drive Angry to his list of embarrassments. His take on hypnotic cult leader Jonah King is a hilarious mix of fading glam rock star and a perverted magician. No one could’ve made this role decent.

Oh, and I mentioned that tasty side dish earlier. Yes, the film is a blackened, charred mess, but then there’s William Fichtner. Thank God for William Fichtner. This would be a zero rated embarrassment without his presence – those three skulls are for him and him only. As The Accountant he’s amusing without having to say anything and his detachment is wonderfully refreshing, like an ironic Terminator in a suit. Scenes without him drag and stutter and eventually collapse. This film needed more Fichtner.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

3 Comments on “Drive Angry”

  1. TheMilkman says:

    This is harsh. Too harsh. I think this film is good fun. So it doesn’t have a sense of irony. So what? I actually think that when these sort of films become too knowing they’re quite annoying. You know this film is crap, they know this film is crap, so what’s the point in even making/watching it at all? I think this film benefits from being played straight.

    I agree that this film isn’t great, but it does exactly what it should do. It’s a series of fun gunfights and car chases. It’s not perfect. It’s not even good. But it does what it sets out to do, and I enjoyed it.

    But I agree with you about William Fitchner. He was marvellous.

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