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If you've seen the trailer you know what this films about. A
Grandfather everyone thought was dead is out to save his baby
granddaughter from the clutches of a gang of devil worshippers. Thats
the plot in a nutshell and you don't need to know anymore.
This film is really a throwback to the old 70's revenge movies. The dialogue is purposely cheesy. The violence is over the top. There's nudity and gore and a few laughs to be had along the way. Nicholas Cage gives another fine unhinged performance delivering these cheesy lines like he was doing Shakespeare. Amber Heard as the sexy sidekick is just as good, but possible the best performance is from William Fichtner as the accountant. The music is loud the gunshots louder and the 3D is great all the way through.
For me it had a similar feel to the crank movies and planet terror. It was just stupid fun and I loved it.
This movie really is one of those guilty pleasure types, where you know
it's a bad movie but really enjoy watching it because of the crazy
entertainment value. It also has a grindhouse feel to it as well, a
very entertaining grindhouse type film. There is just certain elements
in this movie that made it entertaining despite it having a bad script
and not a very well crafted dialogue with one liners. When I first saw
the trailer to this movie I already could tell it's going to be a bad
movie, it looked like "Gone in Sixty Seconds" with a vengeance. The
movie is ridiculous and absurd in so many levels, but for a movie like
this that is one of the key factors why this movie is so enjoyable.
Billy Burke is pretty good playing the cult leader but the most
entertaining actor to watch in this movie is William Fichtner as The
Accountant or the Devil's right hand man, he is great in this and I
enjoyed every scene he was in. In fact I wouldn't mind seeing a prequel
or a sequel to this movie where he is the main character. What I really
enjoyed besides William Fichtner performance is the 3D effect, this is
a movie that is well worth the extra cash to see it in 3D. The 3D is
very well executed and used very well and added a lot to the
entertainment factor. The sex scenes and nudity is very unique at times
and kinda funny in others. Amber Heard is beautiful in this and hot, in
fact I personally think the overrated Megan Fox has nothing on her when
it comes to the level of hotness. Plus Amber Heard can act a bit better
than Megan Fox, although she is pretty in other movies she is really
beautiful in this. It's not a movie that should be taken seriously and
it knows it's not going in a serious direction and does it well, with
bunch of stuff that doesn't make any sense. If your looking for a good
story you will be disappointed, but if your looking for a crazy and
entertaining balls to the wall type of movie I recommend you see this.
Nicolas Cage takes a lot of flack for his acting choices. The man is
likely the most inconsistent actor in the entirety of Hollywood,
jumping from headlining critically acclaimed films like Leaving Las
Vegas and Adaptation to headlining putrid, bottom of the barrel films
like Next and The Wicker Man. But going through his filmography,
sorting the good from the bad, and the bad from the unwatchable, you
will find a good handful of films that are just meant to be silly and
fun. This is where Drive Angry 3D resides.
John Milton (Cage) did some bad things, and was sent to hell as a result. After the death of his daughter and the kidnapping of his granddaughter at the hands of crazy cult leader Jonah King (Billy Burke), Milton escapes hell and becomes a man on a mission. As he hunts and searches for King, he brings the gorgeous Piper (Amber Heard) along for the ride to assist him in his quest.
Drive Angry 3D was unfairly trampled by critics when it was released just under a month ago, and it is a real shame it never was able to find a true audience. Just looking at the trailer should have suggested exactly what kind of film you were in for, and this one delivers at all turns. Right after its gory and explosion-filled opening, you get one ridiculous set piece after the next, moving at a near delirious speed through some of the most over-the-top sequences of the last decade. There is an almost automatic comparison to Grindhouse and more specifically, Death Proof, and it is well warranted. There is next to nothing to take seriously in Drive Angry 3D. There is no thinking involved. It was never meant to look or act like an Oscar-winner. All it wants is for you to strap in and enjoy the ride.
A lot of the fun and enjoyment comes from the 3D more than I would like to admit. The film is of the rare breed of actually being filmed in 3D as opposed to being post-converted, and you can tell in just how much stronger and better it looks as a result. There are no real dull or dark moments, and only a few instances where it feels like the gimmick it actually is. In most cases, it just looks natural and stylish a natural progression for the grindhouse, B-movie genre. And though the special effects do look cheesy, they fit in almost perfectly with the visual motif and landscape the 3D provides for the film. But it is not just the elements that pop out and on the screen that are impressive. A flashback scene, with Cage flashing back in the foreground and the scene playing out in the background is of particular note, because it actually does something unique outside of what we have come to expect from the 3D effects Hollywood continues to pump out. It adds to the medium, and suggests that we may see some creativity out of this format yet.
The rest of the fun, when not laughing near maniacally at all the brutal carnage going on (the effects of "The Godkiller" are of particular note), comes from the goofy dialogue and delivery from the cast. They may look stone faced, but you can tell they are having a great time acting out this preposterous storyline. Burke and William Fichtner (who plays the Devil's right hand man, The Accountant) seem to be having the most fun hamming it up, and doling out ridiculous one-liners. Just watching them react and play their roles so deliciously over-the-top is more than enough reason to see the film on its own. Heard plays the drop-dead gorgeous blonde she has perfected over the years to a tee, adding in a bad ass rebellious attitude for good measure. While she does not wear those fantastic booty shorts for the entirety of the film, rest assured that you will not complain about her other outfit choices (if of course, that is a selling point to your watching the film).
Surprisingly, Cage plays Milton cool and monotone. He does the most outrageous things in the movie, and gets many of the great one-liners, but he seems very mellowed out in every instance. He seems to not be his over-the-top, absurdist self, which is saying a lot since he's made a habit in the last few years of making each character more unusually eccentric than the last (see The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and Kick-Ass for proof). He seems perfectly comfortable playing his character as the closest thing to the straight man, while everyone else acts over-the-top.
What I disliked about the film was that it stumbles as it nears the finish line. Late in the film, David Morse is introduced merely as a means for the plot to advance to the ludicrous ending. And all his character does is stall the film, and make it run longer than it needs to. While his entrance sheds a bit of light on Milton as a character, by that point it is too little, too late. As stated previously, this is not the kind of film that benefits from characterization and explanation. It revels in saying and doing irrational and silly things. Why try to turn the movie around on its audience, who had been eating up every word and action until that point? It just makes the film run longer, and takes away some of the fun.
Granted you know what you are getting into, Drive Angry 3D is a ridiculously over-the-top and incredibly fun diversion. This not a serious movie in the least, and may even offend some people with how outrageous it is. But if you can handle the heat, this underrated gem may prove we cannot give up on Nicolas Cage just yet.
(This review also appeared on http://www.geekspeakmagazine.com).
Milton (Nicholas Cage), long hair bleached and greased back with
vengeance, tosses his duffel bag into the back of newly-met stranger
Piper's (Amber Heard) Dodge Charger. With her hands shoved into her
daisy barely dukes, the uncertainty in her gaze is lost on, or possibly
ignored by, Milton. As he opens the door to get in:
Piper: "I don't pick up hitchhikers, you know."
Milton: "I wasn't stickin' out my thumb."
*car door slam*
This early scene sums up exactly what you're getting yourself into with the Nicholas Cage driven movie, Drive Angry. You've seen the trailers. You've experienced Cage's knack to play unhinged, surrealistic characters. This 70's throwback to the pulp, metal on metal, grindhouse era of film doesn't ask you if you want a ride. You jump in without invitation and only know one thing: you'd better strap in. And it's with this that Drive Angry does not disappoint.
Milton, in his '64 Riviera, has just escaped from imprisonment and is searching for a baby snatched from her mother by a devil-worshipping cult hellbent on a full moon sacrifice led by Jonah King (Billy Burke of The Twilight Saga), a southernly sadistic soothsayer. It seems Milton's own daughter was once stolen from him by the same cult and, well, he's experiencing a little road rage as he shoots his way through one lead to the next. Along the way, he joins up with Piper and her '68 Charger who's pretty looks pack a pretty punch and isn't afraid to gun and run. All the while they are being chased across 6 state lines by trigger happy cops and The Accountant (William Fichtner of Prison Break), a seemingly supernatural hunter looking to return Milton to his warm, warm prison. Throw in a '71 Chevelle, unapologetic bloodshed, and absolutely necessary explosions, and you have one darkly comedic, action fueled vehicle.
Drive Angry embraces the fact that it is ridiculous by nature which makes it very enjoyable. The over the top dialogue, car chases, and 3D shootouts really add to making this a midnight moviegoer's film. Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer (My Bloody Valentine 3D) aimed to keep the integral car sequences visceral and strayed away from CGI for a majority of the chases, though there is plenty of CGI elsewhere. Being an unabashed opponent to the influx of 3D in the cinema today, Drive Angry was filmed as a 3D film from the start and I actually liked it. Some shots were intentionally gimmicky which added to the humor, but the entire movie is a bit over the top and it flowed nicely.
Drive Angry makes no assumptions that it is anything but a popcorn-spilling, laugh-out- loud, violently raw roller coaster on its way no where near an Oscar. And it's better for it. If you don't mind having an arm shot and projected at your face while Nic Cage loses touch with reality, Drive Angry will provide an entertaining distraction from the repetitive daily commute.
3.5 seat belts out of 5
Let me first state that i don't really like Nicholas Cage. However in
this movie it really didn't bother me all that much. So even if you're
like me and don't like Cage you can still see this movie. ;-) On to the
movie itself. It's a rather straight forward action movie with a
bad-ass good-guy who chases a bad guy with and his supporters. Milton
(Cage) has some history with the baddie and on his way to get to him he
uses guns, big explosions and prefers travel by classic American muscle
car. While doing so he picks up a hot chick (Heard) to accompany him on
the road. That's basically it.
The reason i still give it a 7 out of 10 is that the action is pretty nice, most of the special effects are good and the story, although limited, moves along at a steady pace so you won't get bored. Fichtner's side character is also quite cool. The things a don't like about the film are some cliché dialogs with silly one-liners and the feeling that the makers aim for cult status. Too bad the movie isn't good enough for it, but if you hear a title like 'Drive Angry' you expect a simple action movie and that's exactly what you get. Always nice from time to time.
The title says it all. This is a throw back movie to the 70's drive in genre. Don't expect more and honestly that's enough. Some times you are looking for a smart movie like Traffic or Fargo, sometimes you want terms of endearment, but sometimes you just want to grab a hot dog, some pop corn, coke in a real bottle, and get on the roller coaster for the simple thrill of it all. You are looking for good looking cars, good looking girls, action, and a chance to forget about reality, shut down your brain, and get lost in absurd fantasy. That's what this movies is all about,no deep message, just fun. I love the charger in this flick. The chevelle is nice too, but unlike the star character, I'm partial to the charger :-) I would have like to see it remain through out the entire movie, but at least it's there for most of it. Nicolas Cage has been given a hard time lately for his choice of movies. I enjoy him in just about every movie he makes. Whether action, fantasy, family, or some bizarre niche film he's worked on. He always gives a solid performance. I hope to see a second one of these. Not likely, but I can hope.
This goes way beyond "guilty pleasure" all the way to "must-see trash." Does everything that "Grindhouse" failed to do. Dirty, gory, violent, but never unpleasant from start to finish. Patrick Lussier keeps the action efficient and picturesque. Nicolas Cage in one of his only successful forays into the action genre. Amber Heard as a worthy and most attractive sidekick. David Morse and Tom Atkins expertly holding up the "oldster" side of the street. William Fichtner in a performance that would have been a shoo-in for a supporting Oscar nomination if the movie were respectable. But thank goodness--it's thoroughly disreputable. And did I say fun? Let me say it again: fun!
For every good film starring Nicolas Cage, there are a half dozen or so
throwaway films that fade into the background. The 2011 semi-grindhouse
film DRIVE ANGRY is pretty much one of those throwaways. I don't mean
it's a crappy movie. There's enough here to keep the film somewhat
entertaining if you're looking for some mindless fun. I suppose it
might've been even better in 3D. From what I remember, this film was
actually filmed with 3D cameras as opposed to the crappy
post-conversion process. I've only seen it in 2D, so I couldn't tell
you if the extra dimension adding anything to the experience. The story
is straight out of the world of grindhouse: Nicholas Cage is John
Milton, a man who's escaped from Hell, and he's on a mission. His
daughter was murdered by the insane leader of a Satanic cult, and this
same maniac has plans on sacrificing Milton's newborn grandchild in a
ritual to open a gateway between Hell and Earth. But Milton didn't
leave Hell alone...there's a mysterious figure known only as the
Accountant on his tail with the intention of taking Milton back.
Sounds cool, huh? It sort of is. The movie's loaded with crazy action and violence, including a gun battle in a motel room while Milton chugs a bottle of whiskey and continues getting freaky with a barmaid while gunning down multiple opponents. The scene alone should earn this movie awesome status. It probably would if there were more scenes as off-the-wall as this one. The final confrontation where Milton reminds us why the film is titled DRIVE ANGRY is pretty crazy, but the rest of the action in the movie is nothing we haven't seen before. The action also suffers from weak effects. The movie had a $50 million budget but I guess it all went into the car chases. Seriously, cars are exploding at the slightest hit and there's plenty of opportunities for tossing cars here. What CG is in the movie, is generally pretty terrible. When Milton uses his "god-killer" in the finale, I nearly laughed at a moment when we're supposed to be cheering. When it comes to gore effects, I always prefer practical over CG and the practical effects in this film, while not always perfect, were much better.
I understand that this film is following in the recent trend of bringing the grindhouse film back to mainstream (not that that's a bad thing, e.g. GRINDHOUSE, HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN), but even characters in a grindhouse film need to be interesting. Milton's character has a cool premise: he's busted out of Hell. So why is his character so boring? Cage delivers his lines with the energy of someone whose just been woken from his afternoon nap. For a man who's escaped from the bowels of the underworld, he sure doesn't have a whole lot of passion for his mission. Someone should've reminded him the movie's called DRIVE ANGRY, not DRIVE PEEVED. Amber Heard is a waitress who finds herself drawn into Milton's quest and, in addition to providing some amazing eye candy, is the only one who seems to care what's going on. The real scene-stealers in this movie are the villains. Billy Burke is downright creepy as cult leader Jonah King with his Southern drawl and a self-righteous attitude that convinces his followers that this man knows what he's doing. More than anyone, the best performance in the film comes from William Fichtner as the Accountant. He's mysterious (instant cool points for any character) and deadly, cool and calm as he trails Milton and dispatching anyone who gets in his way without breaking a sweat. It's just business as usual for this Hell minion.
The film really has all the best grindhouse staples: gratuitous violence, T&A, awful dialogue, and car chases with plenty of explosions. The problem is, when a scene isn't giving us one or more of these things, it slows to a crawl and I kept losing interest. The dialogue is pretty terrible and any attempt at delivering exposition or expressing emotion falls flat. So keep it short and keep the pace moving fast to get us to the next action scene. In the end, the movie is just forgettable. It's fun enough to watch, but I doubt it'll be leaving a lasting impression with anyone. Not Cage's best, but at least it's not THE WICKER MAN.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I went into this movie as pretty much a blank slate, having only seen a
trailer on the internet and because nothing else really played. Based
on this trailer I expected an action movie with little depth, lots of
explosions and hot women and some true Southern-state-gung-ho attitude,
starring Nic Cage which raised some skepticism (if you think of Nic
Cage you think of puppy eyes, not a mean ass-kicking-machine) and a
vague story about hell and damnation which was probably forgettable,
some dribbling about a baby and a satanic cult and lots of explosions
What I got however, was far more than I expected, and I will tell you why.
First of all, the main attraction of this movie is its adult content. The characters curse, have sex, drink, smoke and generally do everything god forbids and they are good at it. One of the two main antagonists, played by Billy Burke, is your stereotypical 'satanic cult-leader and self-proclaimed messiah' drinking blood, wearing pentagrams around his neck and generally being a hillbilly and the other antagonist is a dry-as-sand suit-wearing cold-and-calculating William Fichtner who is hunting Nic Cage, Cage is hunting the satanic hillbilly and his cult of followers/gun-wielding goons because they killed his daughter and stole her baby to sacrifice for satanic rituals, and the hillbilly and his satanic cult are on the move, trying to get to whatever place they are trying to go to sacrifice the infant.
Nic is assisted by the lovely Amber Heard, playing the token female lead which should always be present in a popcorn action flick like this, and delivers the eye-candy we all hoped for. Nic looks bad-ass wearing his scars, bruises and sunglasses and overall pulls off a very enjoyable Milton, who escaped from hell to 'resolve some unfinished business'. Spitting one-liners, wielding giant weapons and overall being an angry SOB he holds up admirably, against all expectations. Billy Burke pulls off a great hillbilly messiah, together with Elvis looks and southern-state accent but the real star, in my opinion is William Fichtner, the 'Accountant' sent back from hell to tie up loose ends, which in this case means bring back Nic Cage. His lines are great and delivered with great, dry wit, he pulls off the bored, better-than-you attitude amazingly, even in the face of extreme violence and every scene with him in it is a highlight. Mix in some cops being fooled by the Accountant into chasing Nic, evil cultists trying to summon the apocalypse at all costs for Nic to go through and you're left with a greatly enjoyable action flick with many memorable moments, which at times remind of great movies like Shoot 'em Up or Die Hard, a great and fitting soundtrack that never fails to get you pumped, eye-candy (every female in the movie almost) and a great performance by the main characters, some pretty good 3D (even though the objects-flying-at-spectator-level was a bit high at points, but I guess it fits a movie going for pulp and over-the-topness) and an overall great gritty vibe and you are left with a thoroughly enjoyable action flick.
Does it have its flaws? It sure does. There are a couple of plot holes, some things happen quite abruptly and without explanation and it's certainly not thought-provoking, but if you take it for what it is, you will not be disappointed. I graded it a 8/10, because it is the most fun I've had in the cinema this year, so far, but this is entirely subjective and in the grand scheme of things it's no Godfather or Citizen Kane, but it's obvious what this movie is going for from minute one, and the things it sets out to do it does so admirably.
A small but existent segment of the American population believes that
any and all combinations of cars, guns and naked women make for the
perfect care-free cinematic cocktail. But like any cocktail, there's a
perfect blend required, not simply throwing them in a blend-er. Behold
the difference between the "Fast and Furious" franchise and "Drive
Angry." The former, for example, understands that women make the cars
more beautiful, whereas Patrick Lussier, writer and director of "Drive
Angry," believes that they go together because they're two things men
"Drive Angry" is not the awful kind of schlocky grindhouse flick, but it's completely hollow filmmaking. Shot in 3D, when you watch the film in the "inferior" two dimensions, you can tell the film was meant to be watched in 3D the way bullets and shrapnel come toward the camera. Fans of the 3-D medium who despise converted 3D will rejoice at the director's intention to use it, but this intention serves nothing more than the purpose of gimmick. In other words, cars, guns, naked women and 3D.
Who better for the driver seat than Nicolas Cage? Sporting yet another hairstyle, Cage gets to play angry stoic man escaped from hell. Vengeance, of course, lies at the heart of any reputable exploitation flick, so at least Lussier and writing partner Todd Farmer understand their genre. The execution, however, comes off as amateur, especially in an age with folks such as Robert Rodriguez pulling off the genre in a modern era with more success and humor especially.
Creativity for "Drive Angry" comes in the form of Cage's Milton shooting down several religious fanatics trying to kill him with farming tools all while maintaining sexual intercourse with the waitress from the bar next door. That could be chalked up to a genre signature, but it doesn't serve any other purpose in the film. Usually the nudity or sex tells us something about the lone wolf lead character or adds to his mystique, but it really doesn't in this case. Milton's motivation is to get back his baby granddaughter from a Satanist cult that intends to sacrifice her. Having escaped from hell to do so and with Satan's "accountant" (William Fichtner) on his tail, his actions should be pretty clear-cut. After all, he doesn't even fall for the young blonde he's picked up for the ride (Amber Heard).
Heard represents that kick-ass feminist force in the male-centric exploitation flick. Piper vice grips her boss's balls when he puts his hands on her at work and then promptly quits, goes home early in her '69 Charger with "I Break for Pussy" on the bumper and finds another woman on top of her fiancé. I won't spoil what happens after, but this spirit creates the bond between her and Milton as well as a troubled past relationship between Milton and his daughter for which Piper provides a second chance. Heard will one day be too A-list and above this material, so she's refreshing in the role.
Fichtner, who plays the devil's right hand of sorts, also brings a fun performance to the film. He's not one of those typical self-assured villains in spite of his other-worldly abilities, but he possesses the same malice. The slightest sense of humility makes him a memorable character despite the cliché role. Billy Burke as Jonah King, the Satanist who fancies himself better than everyone else, goes a bit more over-the-top, but also makes an effective villain.
The action of "Drive Angry," though much more about guns and gore than cars, satisfies for the most part except when it kowtows to the 3D. For those not watching with special glasses, that sort of zaps you out of the story.
"Drive Angry" ends up being everything you'd expect it to be, provided you expected a 3-D camp-fest manufactured in a petri dish. There's definitely a place for those kinds of films, but the distinguishing factor between good and bad exploitation lies in disguising the man behind the curtain, the puppeteer or whatever force putting that product together merely to entertain at the surface level. "Drive Angry" entertains, but the failure to conceal prevents any investment into the story or characters.
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