John Milton is up against the clock: Jonah King, the leader of a Satanic cult, has murdered Milton's daughter and kidnapped her baby. In three days, King and his followers will sacrifice the child at midnight. Milton picks up the trail in Oklahoma as well as rescuing a waitress named Piper from her brutal, two-timing fiancé. There are odd things about Milton: his driver's license is out of date, he has a very strange gun, and he's being pursued by a man in a suit who carries FBI ID and calls himself the Accountant. Piper, who's lived a life on the sidelines, has to piece things together on the fly as they close in on King.Written by
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Since the birth of time, humanity has endeavored to restrain evil men in prisons. But since Cain fled the murder of his brother, evil men have fled the walls of punishment. So, it doesn't matter if you're a bad-ass motherfucker on the run, because you think you're better than everyone else, and somehow entitled to do what you gotta do. No. Because you see bad-ass motherfuckers are never fast enough. In the end, they will all be accounted for.
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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.
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