For the 2nd installment of ‘Random-Ass Movie Reviews’, we look at the Nic Cage insta-classic DRIVE ANGRY. If you don’t know what this is, please allow me to introduce you. Let’s start with the trailer:
Looks awesome right? Well, it is, and I’m about to tell you why.
First though, let’s talk about what makes a movie artistically successful. For me, a movie that knows what it is, and excels at being so can be called successful regardless of its Box Office totals or critical accolades. To better show what I mean, let’s look at a few examples – THE STRANGERS and PUBLIC ENEMIES.
The Strangers is a slasher film, built on a strong foundation of suspense. Now a lot of people don’t care for slasher films, but I think most of the ones who do would say this was a decent one. I saw it and it made me jump. The whole theater seemed frightened, and it had been a few years since I have seen a movie that had such an effect on me. When I left the theater with my 2 friends we all agreed it was well worth the price of admission, and for that reason when it came out on DVD, I bought it. This is a movie whose biggest star is Liv Tyler, it cost only about $10 million to make, and was aimed a specific audience. Yet it delivered exactly what it promised, a creepy ass good time.
It has a 6/10 on IMDb right now, however, if you were to ask fans of the genre, I think they’d tell you a 6 is too low.
On the flip side, we have Public Enemies. Directed by Oscar Nominated Michael Mann, starring 2 of the biggest names in Hollywood -Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, and which cost over $100 million to make. This Action-Drama had a target audience too, the Academy. This movie was meant to be Oscar bait from day 1. However, while this was still a movie I was quite excited to see, I left the theater thoroughly disappointed, it just felt flat. I’m a gangster movie fan and even I thought it was slow. It quite simply just failed to deliver what was promised in the trailer.
It has a 7.1/10 on that same IMDb scale right now, though I bet the people it was targeted at would rate it lower.
As far as I’m concerned The Strangers accomplished what it wanted to do, Public Enemies did not. Despite this, it’s unlikely you’d hear many people argue that The Strangers is the better of the 2 movies based simply on prejudice against certain genres.
Now the whole point I’m trying to make above is that DRIVE ANGRY fits into a very specific genre, and within that genre, as my new favorite actor Charlie Sheen would say, it wins. Most people would watch the trailer above and say: “That looks stupid.”, and that’s because it is stupid. However, it delivers exactly what it promises in the trailer, and is thoroughly entertaining in doing so. I didn’t walk out disappointed, and that’s saying something now. This movie, for me, should be compared to the likes of Grindhouse, Snakes on a Plane, and Machete. All of which make deliver an entertaining watch, and no illusions of what they really are: B-Movies.
Now, as far as the merits of Drive Angry itself, let’s start with the cast. First off, the supposed A-List actor, who has done more B-List work than any other major name around – Nic Cage. It is Cage’s ridiculous persona that makes this movie work before you even see it. You know you’re not getting Cage from The Rock/Leaving Las Vegas/Adaptation. This is the Cage you saw in (or more likely didn’t see) in Knowing/Season of the Witch/The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. A crazed tornado of emotion and overacting under a ridiculous hairdo. This is the modern Cage.
And cast as Cage’s sexy young sidekick – Amber Heard.
You may remember her as the hot neighbor turned flesh-eater in Zombieland or as Seth Rogen’s underage girlfriend in Pineapple Express. She actually plays off of Cage pretty well, and her legs allow you to ignore how well he is coping with the craziness around her.
She is a waitress at a diner who gives Cage’s character Milton a ride. As the movie progresses, she is thrown into situations that would make even Stallone and Schwarzenegger nervous. But in what is apparently a requirement to waitress in this world, she loves punching people in the face and apparently is afraid of nothing. An admirable quality in a sidekick.
Next, we have the man from Hell, sent to reclaim Cage, and he’s played by none other than William Fichtner.
Fichtner is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated, and overly entertaining actors working today. He is probably most recognizable from Armageddon and TV’s Prison Break. But I’ve actually always associated him with Drowning Mona, where I thought he was hilarious. And the fact he was in The Dark Knight doesn’t hurt his resume either.
Then for the 4th Principal Character, we have the man who lured Milton out of Hell in the first place, Cult Leader Jonah King, played by Billy Burke.
Now a select few of you may recognize him from this little series of movies that have come out in the last few years. The movies revolve around a mopey teenage girl who is slowly devouring her own face, a vampire who wears way too much body glitter, and a werewolf so poor he can’t afford a shirt. But MOST of you should remember him for delivering one of the greatest lines in the history of 24…“Kim, I will kill you.” Boom. What more do you need?
So the movie itself. Here is a story of a man who is in Hell, and see his daughter murdered, and her baby kidnapped by a cult leader (Billy Burke). He escapes Hell in order to save his grand-daughter and does so in Awesome-Fashion. The Devil’s Accountant (Fichtner) is sent to fetch
Cage John Milton and bring him back to Hell. Waitress Piper (Amber Heard) tags along on the journey after Milton helps her out. Fun is had by all, especially the best henchmen ever – Man in Wig.
This was an action-packed thrill-ride, filled with quality cast and ridiculous events happening one after another. All 3 people I saw this with seemed to enjoy it, yet despite its customer satisfaction, it grossed only half of what the new Sandler crap-fest did, despite Sandler’s movie has already been out for a couple of weeks. And while not everyone will love DRIVE ANGRY as much as I did, I bet a smaller percentage of people are disappointed by it than that Sandler movie.
So, this movie gets credit for doing something original and letting you know it was gonna be stupid fun right out of the gate. On entertainment value, I give it 4 stars.
Images: Summit Entertainment