Somewhere, and I’m guessing its probably in the lab attached to that bunker where they keep the Ark of the Covenant for a rainy day, there is a strand of Nic cage’s hair holding up a Lear jet, ala Superman 4. SO, when I saw the trailer for Patrick Lussier’s latest, Drive Angry, I quite literally shat my pants full of “OMFG!!! This movie actually has a piece of Cage’s Magic-Grow locks hurtling towards the audience in 3D”. Despite wondering exactly what could save the audience should Cage’s hair escape the world of 3D and threaten to decapitate the entire front row of the AMC multiplex, I decided to give the flick a go,being an unabashed fan of Lussier’s My Bloody Valentine.
Lussier is a great example of a director that knows how to actually utilize the 3D process. Paying those extra few dollars for a 3D ticket at some time should actually pay off (you know who I’m referring to Mr. Clash **yawn** of the Titans) and I was initially impressed with the director’s use in Valentine. Angry delivers on the 3D promise, lemme say that up front. There is nary a shot that doesn’t take full use of lush multi-layered backgrounds. This is 3D that we expect, but rarely get. That being said, the real question is whether or not the movie can sustain the inventive 3D that Lussier employs.
I liked Drive Angry. I actually really dug it. Although I admittedly was looking for the batshit Herzog Cage, the Charlie Sheenage was more than subdued this time around offering a more stoic, silent badassery that ends up playing to the camera really well. It’s a good thing too because the real turn-it-up-to-11-quantum-speed-hump performance comes from William Fichtner as The Accountant. The man literally fucks the dog shit out of every scene he is in and knows exactly what to bring to the character to give you the “oh shit” moments a film like this deserves. It is Fichtner that elevates this movie to a place where it succeeds beyond just a spring launch pad to one of the biggest movie summers in recent history. Even if the rest of the picture feels forgettable, The Accountant is one of the more memorable takes on a character archetype that many have laughably failed at executing and he does it with enough dead pan “your mother’s tramp stamp is the fake name I gave her” coolness that could very well propel the film to a cult hit on video.
I’m not going to re-hash the story of Drive Angry here because frankly that isn’t where its strength lies. It does a good enough job of telling the tale, of course, but it’s the wrapper that keeps you entertained. This is a movie that is both an homage and its own voice. It’s not too smug or too self aware too induce the kind of eye-rolling that you might expect from its premise. Cage plays a man fueled by revenge and a sense of obligation to break out of the very literal hell he was imprisoned in to stop a Satanic cult from sacrificing his infant granddaughter to their dark lord (not to start sucking my own dick here, but with the way I put it maybe the story does seem a little worthwhile, but I digress). The Accountant gets dispatched by good ole Mr. Splitfoot to bring him back and you get the picture from there.
As a guy that knows what other guys expect in this near exploitation film…yes, there is plenty of eye candy to keep the orbs occupied when shit isn’t exploding. Nic’s journey includes picking up a sidekick in the form of Amber Heard. We all know that ass is pretty interchangeable in a vehicle like this, but I really liked Heard in Pineapple Express and she turns this one in with the same level of enthusiasm.
With a couple of great cameo performances and enough action set pieces to keep you looking forward to the next one, Angry’s only fault comes in the form of its pacing. It’s a problem that comes with a film of its kind and that’s when the action sets a bar that makes it difficult when dialogue is necessary. It never slows down enough to make you glance at your watch, but too much dialogue in a film like Angry can almost seem unnecessary.
All in all, Drive Angry is a solid film that feels very 70s and 80s in all the best ways. Definitely worth the extra ticket price to see it in 3D too.