Drive Angry is the throwback to the old grindhouse way of cinema, with over the top violence and bloodshed, sprinkled with topless women and cheesy dialogue. It’s the type of film that doesn’t take itself seriously right from the start. and in order for anyone to even begin to want to watch a movie that’s almost a running joke in its own right, there has to be an engaging onscreen presence steering the ship, or in this case, driving the car. Enter Nicolas Cage.
You have to commend an actor who isn’t afraid to make mistakes. Cage has starred in his fair share of films that haven’t lived up to any sort of expectation, and yet, he doesn’t let that phase him when selecting what roles he takes on. The thing is, Cage has become almost a phenom in his own right, delivering exactly what his fans expect of him in whatever the part may be, no matter how good or bad the movie ends up being. On the plus side, while deliberately excessive on every level, Drive Angry is a fun time to be had, so long as you know what you’re getting into when you start it.
Cage stars as Milton, a vengeful father who breaks out of hell in order to avenge his murdered daughter, and rescue her baby from the men who killed her. Along the way he meets up with Piper (Amber Heard), a kind-hearted, down on her luck waitress, who just lost her job (so make that ex-waitress) and recently found out her fiance was cheating on her. With nowhere else to go, Piper agrees to ride along with Milton and aid him in his mission. Oh, did I mention that she’s also a total badass? It’s kind of a requirement in this sort of film.
Now, while one would think that Cage having no restraints placed on him, a hefty amount of people to kill, and an almost never ending supply of bullets, that he’d be the most entertaining character in this film — but you’d be wrong. William Fichtner (who starred as Alex Mahone on the TV show Prison Break, but may be more recognized for his brief, and fatal appearance as the bank manager at the start of The Dark Knight) is the absolute best part of this film, and his work here is worth the price of admission alone.
Fichtner plays the devil’s right hand man, The Accountant. He’s not only the guy who keeps track of when souls are due, but is also the one who is sent out to claim them, and reclaim ones that have found a way to escape — such as Milton. Fichtner is absolutely brilliant in the role, and really has fun with it. He’s so good, that you almost wish that the other side stories were toned down, so that we’d get to see more of him. At the same time, however, maybe it’s the small doses that make his character work as well as it does. Still, he’s not only the most memorable character from the film with some of the best lines, but he’s also the top badass in the film, which is no small feat.
Heard plays the part of Piper quite well, and is the one character who is mixed up in this whole bloody escapade who has done no wrong in her life. She’s the heroine of the film, and Heard hits all the notes exactly right in order to show her as the one who is most vulnerable to harm, while also proving she can handle herself in any situation.
The rest of the supporting cast is solid as well, having just as much fun with their characters as the main trio. Billy Burke plays Jonah King, the cult leader who wishes to bring hell to earth, and also the killer of Milton’s daughter. David Morse has a small role as Webster, Milton’s friend from another life, and Tom Atkins plays Cap, the captain of the local police force, who’s delivery makes for some of the funnier moments in the film.
Where Drive Angry takes a wrong turn is the same place that most films of this nature tend to do so, and that’s in the length. There’s nothing wrong with being completely over-the-top, but with a story that doesn’t delve any deeper than it has to and a 105 minute run time, even the steady stream of in your face explosions and hokey dialogue has a hard time keeping this flick from running out of gas.
The film was written by Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier, the same duo who brought us My Bloody Valentine 3D. It’s revealed in the special features that they wrote this script in one shot, and never revised it once, which they believe helped the work keep all its magic. While on some level that may be true, one or two more looks at the script may have helped tighten the film up, cutting out some of the excess fat that causes the film to hit a slight lull in the second act. Lussier, who also directed this film, continues to grow behind the camera, as the action he delivers on the screen is great fun to watch, and easily his most elaborate, and best work to date.
Drive Angry delivers exactly what anyone buying or renting this film would expect to see, and it has fun while doing it. Everyone involved in the film knows to not take it seriously, and in doing so, they deliver grade A performances in what aims to be a B movie. While the movie does wear out its welcome sometime during the second act, it does come back around in the end to deliver the over-the-top, blood soaked, cheesy goods.
The film is delivered in 1080p HD, with a 1.78:1 ratio, and it looks fantastic. The picture is sharp, the colours are rich, the blacks are dark, and there’s no scene that breaks off from the one before it as too fuzzy, or grainy on any level. The audio is also very well done, with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio really shining through on all levels. The music, audio, and crazy action sequences all blend perfectly together, never causing for constant volume adjustment.
Access: Drive Angry – Here’s the main special feature for this release, as you can watch the cast and crew talk about their experiences on set, and what attracted them to the film, while you watch the film. Of course, I’d recommend watching the film beforehand, as you can’t really focus on what’s going on (not that it’s a movie where the plot is integral) while reading little snippets of trivia, or listening to the crew talk. There’s a feature that allows you to skip through the film to each instance when an interview takes place, which is quite helpful for those who just want to hear what everyone had to say, and not have to spend almost two hours sitting to do so.
Audio Commentary with Filmmakers Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer – This one, as usual, is pretty self-explanatory, as these two talk about their film. They really enjoy what they do, so they get really into their work, which makes the commentary that much more entertaining, which is always a plus.
Deleted Scenes – This one was here to make the extras look a little stronger on the back of the box, I suppose, as there are only two deleted scenes, and they combine to hit just over a minute in length.
Drive Angry is a good time for those looking for mindless, bloody fun. It’s a little long, and even the carnage wears thin during the second half; however, it does turn itself around to deliver the goods before all is said and done. The film was made to be seen in 3D, however, the 2D conversion is well done, with the “made for 3D” scenes — such as bullets and limbs flying at the screen — not overwhelming the movie, and thus, making it enjoyable in any format.
Summit Entertainment presents Drive Angry. Directed by: Patrick Lussier. Starring: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Billy Burke, Tom Atkins, David Morse. Running time: 105 minutes. Rating: R. Released on Blu-ray: May 31, 2011. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: 3D, Amber Heard, Grindhouse, Nic Cage, Nicolas Cage, William Fichtner