Release Date: February 25, 2011
Director: Patrick Lussier
Writer: Patrick Lussier
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Billy Burke, David Morse, Todd Farmer, Christa Campbell, Charlotte Ross, Tom Atkins, Jack McGee, Katy Mixon, Wanetah Walmsley, Robin McGee, Fabian C. Moreno, Edrick Browne, Marc Macaulay, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Julius Washington, Jamie Teer, Bryan Massey, Timothy Walter,
MPAA Rating: R – for strong brutal violence throughout, grisly images, some graphic sexual content, nudity and pervasive language
Runtime: 104 minutes
Studio: Summit Entertainment, Millennium Films.
Genre: Action, Crime, Fantasy
Budget: $50,000,000 (estimated)
I can’t imagine anything worse than burning in hell for eternity. According to Nicholas Cage there’s something quite worse in ‘DRIVE ANGRY.’ He’s come back from hell to pay visit to a group of Satanists, driven on rage in his mission for revenge. I will admit, viewing the previews this flick appeared to be another dumb money grab from Hollywood. And In the words of a friend named Courtney McCoy, “It looks like a mix between Gone in Sixty Seconds, Fast and the Furious, and any random Nicholas Cage movie.” He’s correct with his assessment, for this is a composition of the good and the bad. It has a powerful intro, with plenty action of a hell angels walking on earth. Then satisfies your appetite for gore and brutality with appealing 3D effects you’ve long for since ‘AVATAR’. Then draws you in more with humorous takes, and strong characters, but then lets you down from a dry third act, and careless hand to hand tussles, as if everyone part of the film got fatigued accepted mediocrity.
Milton (Nicholas Cage) has freed himself from hell with no explanation of how, and is now walking the earth bent on revenge. His presence is intimidating, so it’s best to stay out his way showcased from the opening scenes. He has a ton of baggage from guilt and bad decisions, but wants to do one more right before eternal damnation in hell. He also has enemies on both sides of the road, who are just as intimidating as himself. The Accountant (William Fichtner), whose goal is to bring Milton back to hell under any circumstances, and Jonah King (Billy Burke) the raspy voiced Satanist, ambitious to release hell’s army on earth for a new world order. What I like about these three characters are they each have their own sense of confidence. They also all have, their own comedic elements, taste in style, voices that demands, and missions to accomplish that demands your attention. I found joy trying to anticipate the outcome of the three. Milton never breaks a sweat even in the company of women, and has some sort of weapon in every corner. The Accountant uses swift moves, a black suit, and illusions to fight his foes (even though some of his methods are corny.), and always leaves a mess behind to clean up. Jonah King has his numbered army of ignorant satan worshipers that will jump for him at the drop of a hat. Also joining the cast is Piper (Amber Heard) the attractive blonde that seems to have wits, and the demand for respect from anyone crossing her path. She does ask the right questions at the right times, as anyone would in the situation she’s thrown into so you’re always rooting from her. Other cast members fill end the gaps to a story told from monologues.
The plot to ‘DRIVE ANGRY’ is entertaining for a while even with every detail not ironed out. Milton’s back for revenge because his daughter’s been slaughtered by Jonah King and his minions. They plan to sacrifice his grand-daughter to bring hells army on earth. Some say, less is better but not in the case of this film. Instead of getting a display of how Milton’s daughter is murdered, we witness a number of poorly crafted flashbacks and a ton of screaming. There’s also no explanation to why Milton’s grand-daughter is so special for the link to hell and earth. If there’s no special link a few lines of dialogue for the procedure would be appreciated. While not breaking the flow of the film, events do take place that of course are of the super natural. It does inspire your curiosity of the conclusion to come. Another positive note is the comedy throughout the film and it’s perfect timing. A risk some films take is the attempt to make laughs during serious and critical moments. I will say ‘DRIVE ANGRY’ does a fantastic job in this area. Taking another look at the characters, Milton never lets you down, but The Accountant and Jonah King do. You’re not necessarily rooting for these two, but for Jonah Kind to be the acclaimed villain there is one scene that removes his entire threat for world domination. Then being entertained from The Accountant towards the end you don’t know who’s side he’s really on, and his whole role seemed pointless as a remote with no batteries. Initially I was under the impression I missed something, but this is not a film you have to think hard about. Finally we come to the third act of the film and I’m eager to the destruction and chaos of that’s was previously promised, then I’m let down by countless, “Are you serious” moments, and counting the seconds to the credits. You may not see it in the form I did, but I can say for a fact that if the same effort was put towards the end of the film as the beginning you may have a solid flick. I feel they ran out of time and said f**k it. I mean how many bullets can one car take before not being capable of driving anymore? Apparently the answer to that is an infinite amount plus five. If you want a happy ending look extremely hard because it may be difficult to find. That just depends on your preference.
I haven’t seen quality 3D effects in a while since ‘AVATAR’ and these exceeded my expectations. Of course not better than the previously mentioned blockbuster, but far more superior than recent films created from sloppy post conversion. I actually ducked in my seats a few times feeling I was going to get hit by wrenches and on coming explosions. What makes it better are the brutal actions scenes and gun fights that complemented the effects. Some actions sets worked very well with a blend of a great score, gun play, slow motion, and comedy. That’s usually a mix you can’t take seriously, but here it’s here you definitely can.
Some will love this film and some will hate it. It certainly had it’s sentiments to be something remembered and an item proud to be in your DVD/Blu-ray collection, but it’s unfortunate I can’t reward it with such merits. This is in no way a must see but not a film you need to stay away from. If you enter your theater with the right expectations I’m sure you will be satisfied with some approval. Nicholas Cage is my 50/50 actor some of his films are quality and the others nowhere near up to par. ‘DRIVE ANGRY’ shoots past acceptable and will leave you mildly entertained, but that’s just my opinion.