Nicholas Cage is one disrespected actor. Choosing roles in films that only indulge his “inner child” instead of picking indie/artsy fare that may garner him fancy golden awards every winter, Cage has been scoffed at for much of his career. “He’s loosing it,” they cry. “Has he given up acting to return to his childhood?” they ask. Well, folks, I was granted access to the mind of Nicholas Cage last night and here are the four words I saw: “I don’t give a f*ck.” I also saw him dressed as black superman and there were three bowling pins making out.
Cage chooses roles that interest him. We could only be so lucky that we could choose what we want to do instead of being forced into something because the mainstream overloads deem it necessary. Whether it be Big Daddy in Kick-Ass or the sorcerer in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Cage only does what makes him happy and that’s freedom in a big ol’ weird-ass nutshell. Viewers are just along for the ride, which is apropos for his latest vehicle (pun attack!) Drive Angry.
Cage is John Milton (you may know him as the author of Paradise Lost, the classic story of Satan’s fall from heaven. The name –tongue-in-cheek– was given to Al Pacino’s character in the 1997 film The Devil’s Advocate). A ‘traveler’ who is on a mission to find the Satanic cult leader that killed his daughter and stole his baby granddaughter before she’s sacrificed to provide hell a gateway to earth.
Clad in a black jean jacket, sunglasses and a cigarette, Milton’s every move is set to guitar riffs and whiffs of ’70s style bad-assery, Milton is a machine. A machine that dispenses one liners while screwing waitresses, drinking Jack Daniels and mercilessly killing cult members who try to kill stop him from finding his “baby girl” all at the same time. The kick? All this happened at the same time.
Hot on the trail of Jonah King (Billy Burke) in Colorado (who knew Colorado had so many Southern accents?), Milton stops at a greasy spoon diner to plot out his next destination for shotgun-blowing action. There he meets Piper (Amber Heard), a feisty waitress struggling with meaning for her ho-hum life of serving food, waiting for ring and being smacked around by her do-nothing boyfriend.
Fate happens. Piper quits her job and screeches off in her ’69 Dodge Charger R/T. As movie luck would have it, the car dies on her a few miles up the road from the diner. Milton, stalks out of the woods and helps Piper fix her engine and she give the mysterious hitchhiker a lift.
After Milton kicks the crap out of Piper’s good ol’ boy-friend, the duo head towards Louisiana to stop the cult’s sacrifice of the baby during the next full moon. Along the way, Milton unleashes hell (furious wink!) on cult members while evading the crafty Accountant’s long-arm of supernatural law.
Drive Angry is thoughtless. It’s unapologetically violent, sexy and filled with splatter patterns and boobage. It’s mind numbingly dumb and it makes no excuses for it. A faux-retro throwback to grindhouse-era exploitation flicks, director Patrick Lussier (My Bloody Valentine 3D, Dracula 2000), along with scribe Todd Farmer (My Bloody Valentine 3D, Jason X), paint a vividly vicious assault on the senses. Filmed in 3D, Lussier and special effects maestro Gary Tunnicliffe use any and every opportunity to give its audience what it wants: blood, bullets, breasts and heads exploding.
The film is not for the weak of heart and judging by the critical reaction from the establishment, it’s not for a whole lot of high-brow critics either. While the shtick did get old and repetitive after the first 40 minutes, Drive Angry was a sinful treat for lovers of inane action flicks.