A few days ago, my father asked me if Nicholas Cage was able to make a good movie anymore. Having recently watched trailers for Next (2007), Knowing (2009), and The Sorceror’s Apprentice (2010), I immediately responded with no small amount of sadness, “no.”
Then I saw Drive Angry.
Now, like Zarathustra taught us the Ubermensch, the Cavalcade teaches to you the Drive Angry!
John Milton (Nicholas Cage) has broken out of Hell in a sweet muscle car. This is a completely different concept from Ghost Rider (2007), in which Nicholas Cage is possessed by a demon hunting other demons on behalf of the Devil with a sweet chopper. His purpose: to stop Satanic cult leader Jonah King (Billy Burke) from using his granddaughter in a sacrificial rite to bring Hell to Earth. In between Milton breaking out of Hell and [Spoiler Alert] stopping King is nothing short of glorious.
Brought to us by the writer/director team Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier who have brought us epics like Jason X (2001) and My Bloody Valentine 3-D (2009), Drive Angry’s primary goal is showing as many car stunts, bodily mutilations, and gratuitous nudity as humanly possible in 104 minutes. Gentle readers, you have to understand, the marketing for this film is deplorable. Remember those commercials with Cage shooting people in a hotel room and dodging an axe thrown at his head? What the advertisers do not want you to know is that Cage is actually having sex with a completely naked woman the entire time!
I do not have the space or the legal rights to list every incredible action stunt in the picture. But I can tell you about the performances featured in this film because they are all gold. Cage is surprisingly restrained here. There is maybe one Elvis-ism, no screeching, and no quirkiness for quirkiness’ sake. Cage plays it straight and it works perfectly. Lussier takes full advantage of Cage’s ability to go from zero to BROODING in .0005 seconds flat.
Amber Heard is plays Milton’s sidekick, Piper. Having only seen her previously as “406” in Zombieland (2009), I did not expect much. This actress is phenomenal. She is essentially Elly May Clampett if she were metal. Billy Burke’s ability to work leather pants and puffy shirts while simultaneously making any semi-religious nonsense sound like the Gettysburg Address firmly cement him as the heir-apparent too Billy Drago. Our esteemed screenwriter, Todd Farmer, makes a cameo doing exactly the same thing as he did in My Bloody Valentine 3-D.
However, the man that steals the show is William Fichtner. Playing “The Account,” the Devil’s bounty hunter, Ficthner joins the “Why didn’t anyone think to give him superpowers before?” list. Said list includes Christopher Walken after The Prophecy (1995) and Robert Forster in season two of "Heroes." Fichtner glides through the movie as the entire world is his amusement park. Drive Angry Fun Fact: It is!
The thing is, you all have to go out and embrace this film in the 3-D in which it was intended. If you don’t, we’ll never get another one. And we need another one. This is a film that gives Nicholas Cage license to say with complete seriousness that he will not drink a beer unless it is the skull of his mortal enemy.
Wanna guess what he does before the credits roll?