DRIVE ANGRY (2011)
Starring Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Billy Burke, David Morse, Charlotte Ross, Christa Campbell, Tom Atkins, Katy Mixon, Jack McGee, Todd Farmer, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Wanetah Walmsley, Robin McGee, Fabian C. Moreno and Edrick Browne.
Screenplay by Patrick Lussier & Todd Farmer.
Directed by Patrick Lussier.
Distributed by Summit Entertainment. 104 minutes. Rated R.
Sometimes you’ve got to wonder if Nicolas Cage ever spends sleepless nights trying to figure out where it all went wrong. Does he sometimes gaze wistfully at his Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas or watch the old videos for Moonstruck, Adaptation., Wild at Heart or even Peggy Sue Got Married and wonder how the hell his career devolved so completely that he is regularly appearing in preposterous trash like the awkwardly-titled and ridiculously-violent Drive Angry.
Yes, we all have heard about the guy’s money problems, but Cage has reached a not-very-enviable state in his once-respected career where he refuses to turn down anything – no matter how low quality – for the promise of a quick payday. I mean have some dignity and rob a bank or something. That’s got to be a more satisfying career path than toiling away in the fetid likes of The Wicker Man, Knowing, Season of the Witch, Next and Drive Angry. In fact, I’m willing to bet that most of his former audience would be more than happy to pay him their hard-earned money not to make the great majority of the films in which he appears now.
The oddest part of it is that this film, in its own strange, trashy way, has a similar vibe to David Lynch’s Wild at Heart. Perhaps, giving Cage the benefit of the doubt, this felt like going home for him.
The only difference is that Wild at Heart – while no masterpiece itself – did have a certain fractured, surreal artiness that gave it texture. Drive Angry, on the other hand has no pretentions to art. It wants nothing but to be fast-moving grind house garbage.
Drive Angry is an unapologetic mixture of surly rednecks, religious fanatics, severed limbs, vintage muscle cars, bosomy waitresses and Satan worshippers. Yet with all these things going for the film, the sad truth is that it’s just a big, loud, bloody, incoherent mess.
And, for some strange reason, it was released in 3D, because apparently jumping cars, fire-ball explosions, jiggling tits and flying body parts just don’t look impressive enough in two dimensions.
Cage plays John Milton. No, not the 17th century author of Paradise Lost, though the highly symbolic name gives you an idea of how subtle the film is trying to be with their little heavy-handed literary allusions. It almost makes you wish the reference wasn’t going to be lost on most of the people going to a movie called Drive Angry.
Milton may be an escaped convict or may be a condemned soul broken out of Hell – all we know for sure to start out is that he is a stone-cold killer and the ladies love him, though he doesn’t seem to have much time for that kind of nonsense.
Milton is looking for his baby granddaughter, who was kidnapped when a crazed evangelist (Billy Burke) killed Milton’s estranged daughter. Now the preacher and his cult plan on sacrificing the little tike in a religious ceremony.
In a small Colorado town Milton picks up a stone cold fox of a waitress named Piper – played by Amber Heard in a role that allows her to take advantage of her impressive sexiness and be a bit of a hard ass – though it appears the only reason that Milton targeted her was because she had a cherry vintage Dodge Charger.
The two of them cross the country together, tracking the killer cult and leaving astounding body counts. Literally, Piper barely knows this mysterious killing machine of a man before she kills two cops to protect Milton. Honestly, particularly early on, the audience is rather befuddled why Piper doesn’t run as fast as she can to get away from this quiet loner, particularly when hordes of people start trying to shoot them or mangle them with farm equipment.
At the same time, there is a mysterious and obviously somehow supernatural man in a suit called The Accountant (William Fichtner), who is targeting Milton and the girl and leaving behind his own body count.
And that’s pretty much it from there. The movie becomes an orgy of driving, shooting, fighting, fucking, cursing, killing and dying.
If you like this kind of stuff – and there definitely are many people who do – then Drive Angry will be a little slice of low-brow heaven. For the rest of us, it’s just cheesy sensory overload.
Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: May 29, 2011.