Review by Jack Foley
PATRICK Lussier’s Drive Angry is a midnight movie with a knowing sense of its own absurdity. Taken in that light, it’s kind of fun but still pretty awful.
Emulating the gritty style of the ’70s and grindhouse movies in particular, Lussier – who previously directed the remake of My Bloody Valentine – has shot proceedings in 3D and gone for a deliberate hard 18.
The result is a film packed with hyper violence, random nudity and outrageous stunts. Things fly out of the screen on several occasions. But it’s all to be taken with a pinch of salt, right down to its bonkers plot!
Nicolas Cage plays a character named Milton who escapes from hell (yes, you read that right) determined to wreak revenge on the cult responsible for killing his daughter before they can sacrifice his grand-daughter.
Helping him, albeit inadvertently at first, is Piper (Amber Heard), a kick-ass motor geek in hot pants and cowboy boots, who has her own things to run away from.
Chasing them, meanwhile, is the devil’s outraged accountant (William Fichtner), a glib number cruncher who remains mystified as to how Milton made good his escape.
Lussier’s film doesn’t stand on ceremony, catapulting viewers into the middle of the action and forcing them to play catch up as they go along. But while ridiculous in the extreme, and crass and gratuitous, there is a definite sense that this is kind of the point.
It’s rubbish for sure, but high class trash if such a thing exists in the movies. And it boasts a cast that seems to know what they’ve signed up for. Cage, though more muted than he perhaps ought to be, plays it kind of cool, whether embarking on a gun-fight mid-sex season or making good on his promise to drink from an enemy’s skull, while Heard is a feisty dame (not damsel in distress) who believably mixes it with the boys.
She is also allowed to develop a paternal relationship with Cage, rather than a sexual one that may have been expected.
Fichtner, meanwhile, is on scene-stealing form as the deadpan but deadly Accountant – and it’s his film in every sense.
Lussier, though, is the type of director who makes Michael Bay look subtle and he refuses to allow viewers to catch their breath in between the mayhem. He makes good, eyeball scorching use of the 3D but fails to deliver a really telling car chase or notable set piece.
Thus, the ensuing results are more in the Cage school of Ghost Rider and Knowing than Kick-Ass or Bad Lieutenant, which is a shame given the quality he can aspire to.
See it with the benefit of a few beers and you may well have a midnight blast. But as absurd as Drive Angry knows it is, it’s still absurd. Or, for want of a better term, car crash viewing in the extreme.
Running time: 105mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: July 4, 2011
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Read our review
- Amber Heard interview
- William Fichtner interview
- Drive Angry Photo Gallery