From Canadian filmmaker Patrick Lussier comes the very entertaining grindhouse-like Drive Angry on Blu-ray. Starring Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, Billy Burke, David Morse, and William Fichtner, the film is one thrill of a ride.
Cage plays John Milton (some will recognize the nod to Milton’s Paradise Lost) who has been in hell, but escapes to pursue the man who killed his daughter and kidnapped his granddaughter.
Although he is on a noble quest, the film also makes it clear Milton is anything but a noble man and probably deserved to be in hell. Just ask the poor woman who had the misfortune to hook up with Milton right before a gunfight.
The character is the standard action hero Cage has played before, but the actor manages to show he has the chops to be cool – even in a movie that is so bad it is good.
Heard plays Piper, the girl Milton hooks up with (a foil for Cage’s sweaty and bad looking toupee, Heard is the sexy eye-candy of the twosome). Her character does little more than provide some window dressing to the plot, but she handles the role well.
She also does a good job fulfilling the need to have a tough chick who can kick some ass in a film dominated by men with guns. Heard makes the most of her scenes and manages to show she can hang with the big boys of the movie – you have to love the chick fight in a crappy RV.
Fichtner, in another amazingly quirky role, steals almost every scene he is in thanks to his evil performance as the Devil’s Accountant – a demon sent to follow Milton back to Earth. He is the demon that keeps up with the souls that are to die or have died.
In my opinion, Fichtner is the reason to watch this movie, and delivers some of the film’s best one-liners. I was on the fence about the film until he strolled onto the screen with his smirk and jokes. He makes the film entertaining and funny – even if it is about hell, death, and sacrificing a baby to the devil. (which Fichtner points out the devil really isn’t too keen on people doing).
Billy Burke is equally over-the-top as the cult leader Jonah King who has kidnapped Milton’s grandbaby. Burke’s acting is in grandiose fashion, and at times borders on annoying. Of course, that helps sell his character and makes you instantly root for Milton and Piper to kill the bastard. He wears his pentagram chain necklace proudly though he gets stabbed with it not once but twice by irate women.
Maybe because the devil just really likes annoying film audiences with a bad screen villain, the good preacher Jonah seems unstoppable as the followers of his church drop like flies in the face of Milton’s wrath. Jonah totes the baby around with blasé absentmindedness and an evil smile, or he passes the wee one to one of his followers to take care of.
Thanks to a low need for plot, the film is filled with killer action sequences – that range from the Piper/Jonah showdown in the RV to Fichtner singing as he slams a gas truck into a police line. Drive Angry knows what it is – an angry film – and it has the action sequences to prove it.
The film opens with Cage killing people and ends with Cage killing people. In between the beginning and the end, Cage kills more people, grins at the camera like the audience is also in on the joke, and shows that even a shot to the eye can’t keep a man who escaped hell down. After all, he is doing all this killing to save his baby granddaughter.
In the 1080p format, the movie is what one would expect for a grindhouse ride: dirty, gritty, sweaty. The film was intended to be seen in 3-D, however, this review is covering the 2-D version. It was fun to point out what might have been a 3-D effect and this might be a fun drinking game. Vodka does make this movie very enjoyable.
The Special Edition features interviews with the cast and filmmakers and a special body count tracker. There is also the usual audio commentary and deleted scenes.
Drive Angry is best viewed with someone who has a quirky sense of humor and does not mind the gritty, sometimes grotesque, effects or the content. Not everyone will like this movie, but if you can get passed Cage’s bad hairpiece and lack-luster acting, you will enjoy Fichtner’s fresh take on being a demon and Heard’s energy. Combined with Burke and Morse’s input, the film is well-acted, energetic and lots of fun.
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