Movie Review: “Drive Angry”

A little respect, if you please, for His Satanic Majesty Nicolas Cage.

Nobody goes off the deep end like Nic. Nobody gives better value in bad movies than the sleepy-eyed Oscar winner with a gift for picking bad movies.

“Drive Angry” is a very entertaining B, C or D-movie, an over-the-top and in-your-face grindhouse gore, guns and “Gun it” picture that’s about epic shootouts, bone-snapping brawls, bare breasts and muscle cars.

The gunplay is funny and the sex hilarious in this “Ghost Rider is Gone in 60 Seconds” mashup.

Cage stars as John Milton — a pause while English majors guffaw — a dead man who busts out of Hell in a ‘65 Buick Riviera, hunts down the cult that killed his daughter and plans to sacrifice his granddaughter on the next full moon in a ‘69  Dodge Charger, arrives at the climax with a 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle SS and rides off into the sunset…

Nahhh, that would give it all away.

It’s the sort of gonzo orgy of violence, pithy profanity and sex that the movies used to deliver in the golden age of the American muscle car. It’s the sort of movie that makes you say “What the hell was that?” and “Why the hell am I driving a Kia Soul?”

Milton has left Hell for a trek across Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana. Make your own “What’s the difference?” joke here because I’m above that. His cohort in this odyssey is the butt-kicking waitress Piper, played by Amber Heard in a career-making tough-girl turn.

“Gimme one reason I shouldn’t shoot you in th’face,” she drawls.

“Ahhm drivin,’” he answers back.

He’s chasing the cult leader who calls himself “The Messiah of the Next Age,” (Billy Burke). And he’s being chased by a supernatural spree killer in a business suit, “The Accountant.” He’s the Devil’s Right Hand Man, and with him veteran character actor William Fitchner (“The Perfect Storm”) takes his place at the table that includes Anthony Hopkins and Alan Rickman — a player whose villains are the perfect balance for the hero.

Watch the way Fitchner ridicules the cops and yokels he meets on his quest to return Milton to Hell. Check out the contemptuous little head-twitch his gives the redneck who owns the ‘69 Charger than Milton is driving the hell out of.

“Four-forty or or Hemi?” The Accountant asks.

“Four-forty.”  Even Satan’s accountant knows you go for the Hemi.

Editor turned co-writer and director Patrick Lussier (“My Bloody Valentine”) beats us to death with this movie, a picture that frankly, had me going “Yeah, I get the idea” at the 45 minute mark. The 3D hurls bullets and cars and bodies and car parts and body parts at us, to comic effect.But it ends meekly and predictably. The script is just snappy enough to get by, propped up by creative uses of the F-Bomb.

Heard sets herself up as a Megan Fox with talent.

And Cage? He delivers. Mock him for his bad choices if you will, but consider this. Who else could have made this work, or would even want to?


See for Yourself

Drive Angry 3D”

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fitchner, Billy Burke, Katy Mixon

Director:  Patrick Lussier

Running time: 1:40

Rating: R for strong brutal violence throughout, grisly images, some graphic sexual content, nudity and pervasive language.

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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