By: Garrett Collins
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Billy Burke, David Morse, Todd Farmer, and Tom Atkins.
It’s no secret that Nicolas Cage has made some, shall we say, interesting career decisions over the past decade or so. I do not know whether his recent bankruptcy has forced him to take every offer that is on the table or the guy loves changing his hair for every role, or if he sees himself as some sort of super hero in an actor’s body (what an idea! Trademark, please) but about 70% of the roles he has taken in these years have ranged from decent (Kick-Ass) to interesting (Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Orleans) to downright dreadful (Wicker Man remake). However, when I heard that he was going to be in a film that was co-written by Farmer and Directed by Patrick Lussier, I must say my ears perked up a bit. After all, Farmer is the same guy that wrote the much-tampered with Jason X, and this is the same team that brought us the undoubtedly fun My Bloody Valentine remake from a few years back. Admittedly not the best quality of films. But, films that were nonetheless watchable, and compared to a lot of dreck out there, it seems that Farmer and Lussier ‘get it’ as far as what to bring to a film and make it fun & watchable. Team these guys up with Cage (and the unmistakably hot Heard) and I thought we would have a fun little film on our hands.
Low and behold, for the majority of this film’s running time, that is exactly what we get. A few years removed from the first Ghost Rider, Cage is still being pursued by Hell. However, it is more fun this time around, as that film’s director, Mark Steven Johnson, didn’t have the wherewithal like Lussier to film such scenes as a thrown ax taking off a strand of Cage’s hair and low shots of women in jean shorts looking under the hood of a car. And, while Cage was still, well, Cage in this role, he is actually pretty fun here. Restrained to an extent, I found scenes such as him making love fully clothed, only to tell the girl who questions him why, that he ‘doesn’t disrobe before a gunfight’ (just before, you guessed it, a gunfight ensues), utterly hilarious. I am sorry, Amigos. Things like this make me laugh. And, while Farmer is never going to be mistaken as an early 90s Tarantino-esque dialogue writer, he actually scripts some interesting exchanges such as our intro to the waitresses in the diner and lines like when asked to give one good reason why he shouldn’t be shot in the face, Cage’s character of Milton responds, ‘cause I’m driving.’ Again, not award caliber, but words that I went with, and cracked a smile at least once or twice. It also should be noted that it was a nice touch naming Cage’s character John Milton after the main character in Paradise Lost. In addition to the dialogue, there are plenty of little references like this if you look hard enough.
Heard, as beautiful as she is, can also act pretty darn well. Anyone who doesn’t believe me on this needs to pick up a copy of All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. You love her, yet there is something undeniably tragic about her in that film. And, she plays it well. Is the fact that she is finding things left and right about this ‘hitchhiker’ she picks up, with little bits of mystery like that unraveling bit by bit, a stretch to accept? Absolutely. But, while Heard is no doubt angry at the situation that is brought before her, she knows that she really has no choice in the matter. She does a great job in this sometimes goofy, yet interesting part, and I hope it leads to some decent work for her in the near future. As far as the direction goes, Lussier keeps the film going pretty briskly, and does a nice job coordinating scenes such as a fight in a motel room and plenty of cool car stunts.
Overall, I had a pretty decent time with Drive Angry. As long as you don’t go in expecting a linear story or scenes that make sense (get a load of the great management in Fat Lou’s Diner), you will also have a good time with it. Sometimes, you just have to put on a film where you shut your brain off for a couple hours and enjoy the time the filmmakers are giving you. And, these are the types of films that Farmer and Lussier are good at making. Although, if I see one more movie where Farmer puts himself in a role in which he shows his naked ass, I will officially start calling him the new king of horror.
3.5 out of 5