“Get ready for one Hell of a ride”
Directed by Patrick Lussier
Starring Nicholas Cage, Amber Heard and William Fitchner
John Milton (Cage) has escaped from prison and is hunting the Satanic cult that murdered his daughter and kidnapped his infant grandchild. Intervening in a violent domestic between Piper (Heard) and her cheating boyfriend, he cadges a lift from Piper to try to rescue his granddaughter before she is sacrificed by the cult.
Oh, and the prison he escaped from is Hell and Satan’s Accountant (Fitchner) wants to bring him back.
What’s wrong with it?
Drive Angry is a shambolic mess of violence, profanity and female nudity, which contains a startling number of threats of rape, employed in order to justify the violent deaths of those making them. It is also a 3D prototype, so there’s a lot of shooting at the camera.
What’s right with it?
The cast and crew know exactly what the value of this film is and play it to the hilt, as when the Accountant drives a tanker full of hydrogen at a police roadblock while listening to ‘That’s the Way (Uh-huh) I Like It’. It has a relentless energy to it, which makes it easy to get involved and overlook many of the flaws.
Fitchner’s Accountant is stiff, uptight, and hilariously foul-mouthed, and Heard’s Piper actually earns the ‘feisty’ tag with an aggressive, spiky, unyielding performance in which she rescues Milton (and herself) as much as she needs to be rescued.
Also, exploitative as it is, there’s always something satisfying about a would-be rapist getting kicked repeatedly in the balls.
How bad is it really?
Drive Angry is a mad joy. A MAD JOY, I tell you!
Best bit (if such there is)?
Cult leader Jonah King threatens to rape Piper into submission, then when she beats up his minions to kill her and defile her corpse. Already battered, Piper cracks her neck and tells him: “Between now and then, I’m gonna fuck you up.”
Now, a lot of films might have that line, but in this one she makes good on the claim.
What’s up with…?
- The Godkiller? It’s an ornate, five-barreled revolver that shoots the word of God or some such thing, and has only three bullets. It’s never really explained, but it is awesome.
- Piper’s willingness to go along with all of this? I think it speaks of some deep-seated psychosis, and I worry that this is Milton’s choice of foster mother for his granddaughter (although in fairness, her qualifying trait seems to be willingness to murder anyone who hurts the child).
- The gratuitous sex scene? Milton lets a waitress take him to bed in full anticipation of a gunfight, which takes place without interrupting the sex. For all that it works out, this feels like poor planning on his part.
Production values – I can’t say if the 3D would have been any good, but in 2D the whole thing looks cartoonish. There are a few good explosions, however, and the Godkiller is glorious. 10
Dialogue and performances – The dialogue is complete trash, but delivered with absolute aplomb. 10
Plot and execution – Dumb as rocks, but it knows it and works what little it has, and the rescue the baby angle gives it some oomph. 10
Randomness – It makes sense in its own crazy world, but it’s world is crazy. 10
Waste of potential – Well, not really. I mean, it could use a little less in the way of threats of sexual violence, perhaps a more coherent narrative, but… Well, it’s basically a perfect 50, with every piece of stupid crap balanced with a moment of insane awesomeness. 10