Drive Angry Almost Makes It to the Finish Line

Drive Angry isn’t the movie Nic Cage devotees have been waiting for. It’s not a return to his genius form last seen in 2009’s Bad Lieutenant. He talks through his teeth and snarls a lot, but there are a lot of actors who can snarl better than Cage. It appears he’s trying to act cool, while it was probably his manic genius that got him offered the role in the first place. With that said, Drive Angry is still great in the expected ways a ridiculous b-movie should be. Oodles of blondes, bullets, and blood. But, sadly, having all the ingredients to a bitchin’ movie doesn’t mean it’s going to come out right.

Cage plays Milton (how subtle), a hardass who looks like a chewed up piece of gristle with a blonde wig on. Milton escapes from hell to avenge his daughter’s death and to save his granddaughter from a satanic cult. Sounds like a conflict of interest, but Drive Angry refuses to be bogged down by trite things like exposition. While Milton is pursuing the satanic cult and their Elvis-like leader Jonah King (Billy Burke), he’s accompanied by Piper (Amber Heard) – a firecacker with a mean right hook and a foul mouth. All the while, an unstoppable force calling himself the Accountant is out to drag Milton back to hell.

It’s William Fichtner, as the Accountant, who steals every scene in Drive Angry. He pulls off homicidal cool so convincingly while simultaneously looking uncomfortable in human skin. He’s got the funniest lines, the best kills, and a power tie that screams confidence. Amber Heard is…well, hot. That’s all she needs to be in this movie. B-movie legend Tom “Thrill Me” Atkins makes a great appearance as the police captain. But then there’s Cage.

Through the whole hour and 40 minutes I was asking WHY is Cage playing it so cool?! You escaped from Hell and you’re armed with a gun called “The God Killer” – be manic and jittery and scream a lot! I think he was going for Clint Eastwood or John Wayne redemption reaper. He’s just boring.

The 3D is put to good use. Meaning lots of limbs and bullets flying towards the screen. There’s not a boring moment and the frequent action sequences are done really well. Surprisingly, there’s not a lot of car chasing going on in Drive Angry. Shoot outs, brawls, and shoot outs while fucking and chugging Jack Daniels make up the action here.

If all the elements are there, how did filmmakers Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer (My Bloody Valentine 3D) end up delivering a flaccid movie? They obviously know what makes grindhouse flicks so entertaining, but just throwing the ingredients into the same movie doesn’t automatically make a good movie. Story and characters to root for are essential too. Can’t blame them for trying though.

This review originally appeared on the Mishka Bloglin.