In the newest 3D action-adventure from the director of MY BLOODY VALENTINE, DRIVE ANGRY stars Nicolas Cage as Milton, a hardened felon who has broken out of hell for one last chance at redemption. Intent on stopping a vicious cult who murdered his daughter, he has three days to stop them before they sacrifice her baby beneath a full moon.
Without a second to waste Drive Angry delivers exactly what you expect: violence, action, and some 3D effects work that makes you believe the worth of the extra surcharge. We meet Milton (Nicolas Cage) in these first minutes as he is hunting down three men for information because Milton is on a quest. He has escaped from hell and seeks to find the cult leader responsible for his daughter's death; a sinister, slimy, and altogether disgusting man named Jonah King, played to perfection by Billy Burke. As luck would have it Milton makes a friend and ally in a beautiful and tough as nails young woman, Piper (Amber Heard). They set off together searching for Jonah and what ensues is an all out assault on the viewer, and this is a very good thing. There is an incredible amount of action and violence. Things blow up, people get shot, women fight, men fight even more, and the entire time you just want to see more. The addition of the Accountant (William Fichtner) puts a great humorous spin on the film as he is hunting down Milton, and delivering some fantastic lines to the civilians he encounters. The only thing that impedes Drive Angry from being a fantastic action film is that it is not a serious movie. Nor is it intended to be one. Everything that happens in the story is overblown and the "normal" cinema attendee is not going to be fond of the gratuitousness of everything in the film. For those who like a little rubbish with their popcorn you will be overly satisfied. When the credits roll do not be surprised if you feel compelled to say, "That was such crap...I loved it."
"I never disrobe before a gunfight," Milton (Nicolas Cage) to the woman with whom he is currently having sexual intercourse. -- With a line like this how could a movie be given an above average rating for writing? Because it does not shy away from the fact that it is an exploitative film. It is full of one-liners that shine praise upon the B-movie, or even C-movie, lineage this film has become a part of intentionally. You could call this a camp film, as the seriousness of the situation is completely lost through the dialogue, direction, and acting but I think to call Drive Angry campy cheapens the amount of skill and hard work that went into creating a script such as this and bringing it to the screen.
Writers Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier (also directing) have concocted every exploitative film fans dreams in one script. Of the majority of films that get called B-movie's it is usually because they failed on a variety of levels making the movie so far below expectations it is considered trash. Or the overall look of the film is poorly done, making it not pretty and glossy like the A-movies all do. Or it deals with gratuitous sex and violence or drugs making the subject matter questionable for the average viewer. If you really think about it all films exploit one thing or another, but that is off topic, back to the brilliance of Drive Angry. What if you create a screenplay that is meant to exploit everything and it looks good? The actors are characters playing characters, not "real" people. The dialogue is all about the absurd. The plot something of myth (in this case a man coming back from hell to battle an evil cult leader). The violence magnified; and in 3D the joy of watching a hand being blown off and flying towards you a magical experience. The lead female character is incredibly sexy, far from stupid, and she can kick ass like the best of them as well as take a fist to the face from a man or woman and still get up with her head held high. Yea, Piper (Amber Heard) is one tough bitch in this film and she looks damn good in a pair of daisy dukes as well. Yet the obvious fetishization of her body is at a minimum (way to keep the ladies happy and feel respected Farmer and Lussier). As for the main man, Cage's Milton, he is a tortured soul, literally, and with each shot of his gun, expertise with driving in a car chase, or deliverance of a line destined for cult status you treasure him for his blatant abomination while loving him for the unselfish reasons he has returned to seek vengeance.
Drive Angry is exactly what it aims to be, an exploitative full-fledged ride of action, violence, exaggeration, and ridiculousness. It has the action you desire and the humor that makes these type of films more lighthearted than one would expect. You feel the need to applaud when things, or people, get blown to bits. The story actually makes complete sense and the pieces of the puzzle surrounding why Milton is on his rampage are revealed at a perfect pace. This is a movie with absolutely zero value but at the same time elevates the term "exploitative cinema" up a notch. This is a B-movie that deserves an A-.
February 25, 2010