Drive Angry 3D
After winning the best actor Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, Nicolas Cage decided to become an action star. For 14 years, Cage has made a career out of kicking ass and taking names. Yet the actor never seems comfortable playing the badass. His oddly nuanced voice and pregnant pauses come off as uncertainty instead of a quirky character trait.
If Cage can’t convince himself he’s an action star, what chance does he have of convincing the audience?
Not much in this latest venture.
Cage plays John Milton — literary buffs can roll their eyes now — a man who escapes from hell to seek vengeance for his daughter’s murder. You see, while Milton was busy roasting in the fires of damnation, his neglected daughter joined a satanic cult.
When she left the head Satanist Jonah King (Billy Burke: Twilight) to get married and have a baby, King kills her and takes the baby for a sacrificial ceremony. Why? Because King is evil, as you can tell by his soul patch and flamboyant shirts.
As part of the hell experience, Milton gets to watch his daughter die.
Milton does what any hell-bound father would do: He steals a demon-slaying gun called the Godkiller, jacks the devil’s muscle car and floors it back to the land of the living. All in eye-popping 3D!
Soon Milton is killing a path through the south on the hunt for his granddaughter and King. Along the way, Milton picks up a sassy hash joint waitress (Amber Heard: The Ward) and a cherry Dodge Challenger.
Chasing down the wayward hell escapee is The Accountant (William Fichtner: Date Night), a fussy, sleek-suited bounty hunter, equipped with super strength and the ability to pull some sort of Jedi mind trick to bend mere mortals to his will. See, he works for the dark side.
The cult, the demon, the waitress and the badass come together as you might expect: In a blaze of exposed breasts, explosions, gore and puns. It should be exciting, but it’s not.
The film works overtime to prove Cage’s toughness. His punches cue guitar solos; women purr and strip at the sight of him; and he accurately wields a shotgun with one arm. But Cage, with ratty blond extensions and a look of medicated vacancy, isn’t able to sell his character.
Nor is director Patrick Lussier (My Bloody Valentine) able to capture the low-budget trashy fun of the 1970s’ exploitation films he wants to pay tribute to. Instead of grimy action and sex, Lussier presents a slick, expensive looking piece of trash. I have to wonder why Lussier was willing to spend the money for unnecessary 3D technology — which unimpressively amounts to occasional axes and bullets flying into the audience —but not a few dollars developing an interesting script. Or at least a few decent one-liners.
Fichtner, The Accountant, easily the best actor in the film and certainly the only one having any fun with the material, tries so hard to engage his costars it can seem like he’s coaching nervous students at a Learning Annex class.
Drive Angry 3D is a cocktail of burning rubber, boobs and blood. Cocktails are the only thing that might make tolerable this lazy addition to Nicolas Cage’s festering filmography.