Film: Drive Angry
UK Release date: Out now
Director: Patrick Lussier
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, Christa Campbell, Charlotte Ross
Reviewer: Adam Wing
If you’re looking for one Hell of a pitch, look no further. Nicolas Cage star as Milton, probably the least threatening name ever given to a felon destined to break out of hell. That’s right folks, he breaks out of Hell for one last shot at redemption. Intent on bringing down the sadistic cult that murdered his daughter, he has three days to stop them before they sacrifice her baby beneath a full moon.
He's joined on his travels by Piper (Amber Heard), a potty-mouthed waitress who steals her ex-boyfriend's cherry-red muscle car in order to help Milton - hotter than the fires of Hell could ever claim to be and surely the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled. The two of them are hot (there’s that word again) on the trail of Jonah King (Billy Burke), who wants to sacrifice the baby in order to unleash Hell on Earth. That would make him kind of a cu*t himself then…
To make matters worse (or maybe that should read a whole more entertaining) a mysterious killer known only as "The Accountant" (William Fichtner) is hot on their heels as well. The Accountant has been sent by the Devil to retrieve Milton and deliver him back to Hell, even if it means dispensing with a few innocent police officers along the way. That’s ok though, it’s all part of the plan, he does take great pleasure in saying, “See you later” after all.
Drive Angry was unappreciated, unloved and pretty much ignored at the cinema, but I’m starting the backlash here and now, because Drive Angry deserves a much wider audience on DVD and Blu-ray. Patrick Lussier’s (My Bloody Valentine) trashy grindhouse tribute was initially released in the 3D format, and the Blu-ray release comes with both 2D and 3D versions. Which means it looks astonishing on high definition screens, with Lussier exploiting the screen by overloading his set pieces with slow-mo bullets, grand explosions and more blood than a vampire buffet. The pace is relentless from start to finish, undeniably ridiculous, but when did that ever stop a movie from becoming monstrous fun?
William Fichtner has long been one of Hollywood’s finest supporting actors, and if Drive Angry doesn’t earn him a lead performance somewhere down the line, I don’t know what will. He gets the balance just right, lurching from subtle menace to lovable rogue in the blink of an eye, and Drive Angry improves tenfold whenever he’s on screen. Of course, it helps when you get to utter the line, “I wont see you until you’re seventy three. You, I’ll see in three months.” By comparison, Nicolas Cage is rather restrained. Perhaps he was more concerned about his current financial situation, but whatever the reason, it takes him a little while to find his feet. Drive Angry should’ve seen Cage access the Wild-at-Heart side we all love to see, but his performance is a little subdued, lazy even, proving to be the one wrong turn we didn’t see coming.
Amber Heard is clearly loving every minute of it though, spitting out venomous dialogue with wide-eyed enthusiasm, lines like “Suit yourself, but no one reaches the end and says I wish I hadn’t fucked so much”. Drive Angry is blessed with a fine line in wordplay, whether it be Milton’s reaction to The Accountant telling him The Devil will be pissed, “What’s he gonna do, not let me back in?”, or The Accountant’s sinister evaluation of the last female cult member. Clinging to Milton’s Granddaughter as he turns away, The Accountant asks “Would you have killed the baby if he asked?… Thought so. See you soon.”
Drive Angry ran out of road with cinema audiences the world over, but on the small screen it deserves another chance. Patrick Lussier gives it everything he’s got, throwing naked bodies, sex, violence, great dialogue, bad dialogue, OTT performances and a Heard called Amber at the screen until something sticks. Not everything works, the Shoot ’Em Up style sex scene has been done before, and Cage will probably look back and wonder why he wasn’t enjoying himself a whole lot more. The title pretty much sucks as well, but I do kind of like his hair in this one.
Drive Angry might not be particularly original, but it sure knows what it is - all it really needs is a bloated rock anthem by Meatloaf… what’s that you say? Saturday night escapism of the highest order, drenched in blood, boobies and fast cars. True Blood meets Planet Terror, not exactly the perfect date movie, but sometimes all you need is a ride in a stolen car.