Drive Angry 3D
A Hell of a ride…
Every so often a film escapes from Hollywood that just shouldn’t exist, that’s pure batshit crazy; a demented, unapologetic, balls-to-the-wall, explosion of cinematic mayhem stuffed full of fast cars, big explosions, gratuitous nudity and graphic violence. They don’t do huge business but they gain a loyal cult following and become a guilty pleasure no-one really admits to enjoying. They rarely star anyone you’ve ever heard of and they certainly don’t star Oscar winners. But if one did, it’d be Nicolas Cage. And it’d be in 3D. Boasting probably the most ludicrous plot of the year Drive Angry 3D is exactly that film.
Cage’s John Milton is a bad-ass crook who escapes from Hell (yup, you read that right: HELL!) in a ‘70s muscle car in order to avenge his daughter’s murder by a Satanic cult and save his infant granddaughter from being sacrificed by their messianic leader Jonah King (a snake-hipped Billy Burke) who intends to unleash the Apocalypse. Aided by ballsy waitress Piper (Amber Heard) and chased by Satan’s right hand demon, the Accountant (William Fichtner on brilliantly twitchy bug-eyed form) who’s intent on dragging him back to Hell, Milton has just three days to get even, rescue the baby and save the world.
And that’s it! No, really, that’s the entire film! Essentially one long chase scene where Cage gets to shoot loads of people in the face, Drive Angry 3D dispenses with superfluous luxuries like character and plot development and for 104 minutes throws jiggling breasts and severed limbs straight at the audience, never giving them time to pick holes in the plot or even breathe. Part supernatural action movie, part ‘70s exploitation flick, Drive Angry 3D is loud, brash, unrepentantly violent entertainment. The pacing is tight and the 3D, while gimmicky, is satisfyingly immersive in a “Duck! Here comes another severed limb,” kinda way. It’s far from subtle. Cage’s John Milton (an obvious nod to Paradise Lost) is a man so cool under pressure that he’s able to drink a bottle of whisky, smoke a cigar and conduct a gunfight while screwing a hot blonde without being thrown off his stroke. Burke beats the crap out of Cage with a walking stick made from Cage’s daughter’s thighbone. In fact, Drive Angry 3D has kidnapped subtlety, chained it to a wall and is forcing it to huff amyl nitrate while wearing a gimp mask.
Cage is amusingly gruff as the avenging fallen angel while Twilight’s Billy Burke comes off like a swaggering, sexy, young Tommy Lee Jones and seems to be channelling the ghost of the Lizard King, Jim Morrison, as the Dionysian cult leader. Smart and gorgeous, Amber Heard is a sassy foil for the laconic Cage and the knockdown, drag-out fight between the feisty Piper and the Satanic King is one of the highlights of the film. The true star of the film though is gimlet-eyed character actor William Fichtner in the sort of role normally filled by Christopher Walken. Chewing the scenery like it’s Kobe beef, Fichtner as Hell’s bounty hunter is cool and suave, gliding effortlessly through the onscreen carnage, intent on bagging his man and the chemistry between him and Cage is electric. You almost want to see a sequel where Milton and the Accountant go to Vegas.
From the moment Cage roars out of Hell in a stolen car until he makes good on his threat to drink a beer from the baddie’s blood-spattered skull, Drive Angry 3D never lets up. Sure, it’s more bonkers than a koala bear in a tumble dryer and amorally violent but it’s also something most bloated, big budget Hollywood movies just aren’t anymore: it’s fun. Hyperactive, over-the-top, lunatic fun. In a world where Martin Lawrence continues to make Big Momma’s House sequels and Ashton Kutcher gets to be a romantic lead thank God (or the Devil?) for Drive Angry 3D.
Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Billy Burke
Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier