Nicolas Cage continues to baffle and frustrate. Between genuinely interesting films that often include good performances he seems determined to wound his own reputation by appearing in all manner of guff. For every Leaving Las Vegas there is a Con Air, for every Adaptation there is a Wicker Man and now, for every Bad Lieutenant, there is a Drive Angry 3-D.
£75million was spent on this film. £75million! Think what that money could have achieved. Or rather don’t, because if you do, when you watch this, those tears of guilt may obscure your vision.
It’s sort of a shame, because Drive Angry at least had the hallmarks of a decent B-movie romp. But, as Snakes on a Plane famously taught us, films trying to be ‘so bad they’re good’ are often just bad. Cage plays Milton, a man who has (get ready for this), escaped from Hell. From Hell! He’s done that (somehow) in order to protect his granddaughter from being sacrificed by some Satanists lead by Billy Burke’s Jonah King, a man so evil he licks blood off his fingers after he’s killed people. That’s how you know a guy is evil.
Cage quickly picks up a partner in evil-bashing in the form of Amber Heard, who steals her boyfriend’s car and decides to come along for the ride because ‘her life has never had meaning up until now.’ Amber Heard is kind of a fun presence to be around, but Patrick Lussier can’t seem to decide whether to let her act or have her bend over the bonnet of a car in hot pants. Cage, meanwhile, is charismatic in his own way, but doesn’t really look too bothered about any of it.
The action is, for the most part, disappointing. Milton’s introduction is supposed to be cool (shotgun!) but is cliched and gets the film off to a slow start. From there the set-pieces are workmanlike but never thrilling, and the violence – ‘enhanced’ by 3D effects – is moribund. Bullets flying out of the screen and bits of broken cars bouncing at us every time a car crashes actually works against the film. Every time it happens you sit back and think “Oh, I’m in the cinema; 3D still isn’t very interesting is it?”
The film is saved not by its star but by a supporting turn from William Fichtner as The Accountant, an underworld bounty hunter stalking Milton’s every move. His barking, over the top performance – all camp nods and droll delivery – is the standout, and the only real reason to recommend this.