Monday, June 6, 2011

Review: Drive Angry

Synopsis: A vengeful father escapes from hell and chases after the men who killed his daughter and kidnapped his granddaughter.

Review: Nic Cage's career has been one heck of a roller-coaster ride. From highs so high, you'd think he was worthy of a place among Hollywood's leading men legends, to lows so low, that you wonder if his agent is out to sabotage him to never working in film again, his film credits have run the gamut. In the grand scheme of all that, "Drive Angry," while not the lowest point he's ever hit, certainly is on that end of the dividing line.

Cage plays a man named Milton, who's come back from the depths of Hell, to revenge his daughter's murder and grand-daughter's kidnapping at the hands of Jonah King (played by Billy Burke) and his devil cult. All while picking up a sexy sidekick (played by Amber Heard) and dodging a hell-born truant officer (played by William Fichtner).

If that plot sounds completely preposterous, that's only because it is.The film is on the level of a low-budget grindhouse affair, but is lacking in the true grit and feeling of sleaziness that a true one would have. Cage spends the entire film with the same expression on his face, whether he's blowing people away, talking about his love for his daughter, or getting it on with a cheap floozy. Meanwhile, Billy Burke's character is simply evil incarnate, without a single redeeming factor or any complexity of any kind. He doesn't just lack depth of character, but shallowness of character. Amber Heard is simply somevery sexy arm candy for Cage, as the plot shows her to be little more than the perpetual damsel in distress, even when she's trying to kick some ass herself. The only one to bring anything of value to this proceeding, is William Fichtner as the hellspawn retriever known as "the Accountant." His deadpan expressions and flippant remarks make up most of the humor to be found (which isn't much) in this action-paced mess.

Co-Writer/Director Patrick Lussier, who's resume includes such cinematic gems like "Dracula 2000," "The Prophecy 3" and "White Noise 2" opts to leave out such unnecessary trivialities, like a coherent plot, character motivations and explanations, and emotional drama, to give more time to the much more important special effects, action sequences, and 3-D elements. Why create a mood, when you can simply blow things up?

Pretty much everything else is just explosions, car chases, and blood-letting. Some of which is fairly well done and the one sole area the film tries to excel at. We get no real insights into Cage's or Heard's characters. The script has Cage telling us how much he loved his daughter and how Heard was "waiting for something" in her life, but it's never really bought to life in the film. There is absolutely zero emotional investment in any of these characters. Even in the most shoot-'em-up action-fest around, you need to make folks care about what happens to the hero. Such is never the case here, because to do that would take time away from blasting people with shotguns and watching cars race down the highway. Despite it's R-rating, the film actually feels like it's aimed to appeal to boys between 12-16 years-old, which is only fitting as the film is on the same maturity level.

In the end, "Drive Angry" is an empty barrel, as the amount of noise made during the viewing should no doubt tell you. It hits one-note throughout its 104 minute run time and never even tries to go beyond it. I could almost believe they wanted to make a grindhouse film, except the budget for the action and special effects goes against that, as well as going after a star of Nic Cage's level (although, with films like this to his credits, that might start to change). It's too "shiny" to be a grindhouse film, but too poorly conceived to be a true Hollywood action blockbuster. I suppose if you had a couple hours to kill and were looking for a totally mindless experience, you could do worse than this film. But for the action junkies out there, you have many other offerings that will fill your need for carnage, and are better made films, than this one is. It's really only one to see, when you've seen most everything else this film genre has to offer.

Rating: 1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

No comments:

Post a Comment