Review: DRIVE ANGRY (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Review: DRIVE ANGRY (2011)

RATING: 2.5/5

Another Nicolas Cage movie, another possible stinker-in-the-making. After all, he has been in a continuous losing streak with back-to-back fiasco: THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE (2010) and SEASON OF THE WITCH (2011), not to mention most of his other equally bad movies these days. But at least this time, he manages to redeem himself in DRIVE ANGRY. A high-octane grindhouse throwback of the '70s, Cage is certainly the kind of the right actor born to fit for an offbeat role, and it's a relief to see him in a playful, devil-may-care approach here. And thanks to writer-director Patrick Lussier and co-writer Todd Farmer, they have created a reasonably good trashy fun out of this movie here. Mind you, it isn't high art and it doesn't have to be. DRIVE ANGRY is pure guilty pleasure entertainment, except that the movie is a half-baked effort that could have been better. More on that later.

The movie quickly gets down into business, as a vengeful guy named John Milton (Cage) is on the pursuit to locate a notorious Satanic cult leader, Jonah King (Billy Burke) who is responsible for his daughter's death. King have kidnapped his baby and due to sacrifice her on the next full moon. This is where Milton needs to save his baby and kills Jonah King before he runs out of time. After trashing his car during an early pursuit to gain information about the whereabouts, he is desperately in need for transportation to get him to Louisiana. En route via foot, he crosses path with a sexy and tough waitress Piper (Amber Heard), who gives him a lift after he helps fixing her car. She only stops him as far as her fiance's (Todd Farmer) house and they parted ways. But somehow they get together again after Milton returns back to help beat the crap out of her fiance who tries to abuse her. So they end up taking up the car, which is actually belongs to her fiance, and hits the road. Soon she agrees to join him in the quest of saving his kidnapped baby as a return favor of helping her earlier. As they are closing in of locating Jonah King, they have to deal with pursuing cops as well. Unfortunately nothing comes worse than the arrival of a mysterious figure in black suit who simply calls himself as "The Accountant" (William Fichtner), and he will stop at nothing to drag Milton back to Hell. Yes, you read that right -- Hell.

A strange but exciting hybrid of 2007's GHOST RIDER and '70s-style road movie, the movie hits full throttle with plenty of worthwhile entertainment and whole loads of bad-ass attitude. The action -- car chases, fistfights, gunfights -- are fast and furious, although mostly generic but fairly entertaining nonetheless. And of course, Lussier knows how to insert a scene of kinky fun as well, with one particular hotel-room sex/gunfight involving Milton, a hooker, a bottle of booze and a group of Satanists.

Beside Nicolas Cage, this movie is also blessed with plenty of gamely playful supporting casts as well. Amber Heard is never been this lively before. She's certainly as stunning as ever, and pulls off a highly-spirited performance as a friendly beauty with tough attitude. Equally enjoyable as well is the incomparable William Fichtner. His cool-as-cucumber "The Accountant" character is very fun to watch for as he goes through the scene with his hilariously calm intensity, and steals the show each time he appears. Billy Burke is devilishly good here as Jonah King, while genre vet Tom Atkins is having a ball of time playing a crooked police chief Cap. One particular scene involving him saying the movie's best line during the climactic scene: "When I tell you to aim for their tires, I mean aim for their heads." A bit unfortunate is David Morse, who is criminally underused as John's old pal from the past named Webster.

All trashy fun aside, DRIVE ANGRY, as mentioned earlier, is sadly a half-baked effort. The decision of shooting this movie in 3D is more of a gimmick than a necessity, while the abundant usage of cheap-looking CGI rather than practical effects are sometimes off-putting (namely, during many of the car chases). And then the movie gradually loses steam right until the equally disappointing (not to mention, lazy) third-act finale. If only Lussier chooses to tone down the obvious slick approach here, the movie would have been a complete genre package.

Imperfections aside, DRIVE ANGRY remains a good time-waster especially for genre fans who like GRINDHOUSE (2007) and MACHETE (2010).

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