Drive Angry 3D – Review

Judging from pre-release word of mouth, this review would seem to be moot.  Nobody’s giving it a chance, largely because of Nicolas Cage.  It’s true, he’s done some awful movies and he’s in far too many…but he can still be fun and to write off an entire movie because the actor has made some bad ones in the past…well, nobody would ever go to a movie again.

Drive Angry, as hopefully implied by the title, is simply supposed to be fun.  Silly, over-the-top, exploitation fare involving car chases, gore, nudity, cults, explosions, demon-stopping weapons, and Satan’s Accountant.  It only aims to please.

Nicolas Cage can be crazy on screen, as we know.  Here though, his character of Milton is a determined man on a mission.  He’s not given too many chances to show that trademark lunacy, which is too bad because exploitation movies like this benefit the most from outrageous performances.  For all the grief he gets, Cage always does seem to put a good effort into his roles, and this one is no exception.  You believe he will not stop until he meets his goal.

Along the way he picks up an accomplice, played by Amber Heard.  She’s great to look at, and likable enough, but largely unimportant to the story.  Hot on Milton’s trail is the Accountant, played by William Fichtner–you know his face if not his name.  He’s absolutely fantastic, and I want more movies with his character.  He’s not only the best part of the movie, he’s involved in the only truly innovative action scene.

And that may be my biggest problem with the movie.  It’s “extreme” but not extreme enough.  Cage is too restrained, the action is fun, but not unique (although it is nice to see mostly real stunts instead of CGI), and I get the sense that the creators tried their best, but simply aren’t the most inventive.  For example, there’s a scene where Milton is having sex and then gets into a gunfight.  Rather than leaving the girl, he just picks her up and swings her around with him.  It’s funny, as it’s supposed to be, but it was done before, and better, in “Shoot ’em Up” from a few years ago.

The 3D, while still unnecessary, is at least used well here.  Bullets, jawbones and broken baseball bats all come at you.  It’s deliberately the gimmicky kind of 3D, but because it fits the style of movie, it’s appreciated.

So yes, it was fun.  There’s a good creative base and I’m glad these kind of movies still get made. Because of the genre, you forgive the plot holes or cheesy lines.  But it all comes down to the director’s vision, and for great recent exploitation, look to Piranha 3D or Crank 2.  Drive Angry is in the same group, but just not quite as good.

Drive Angry 3D, starring Nicolas Cage and Amber Heard, opens in theaters February 25, 2011.

Ryan S. Davis

I love board games, thrill rides and travel. I'm happy to watch and review all kinds of movies, from mainstream blockbusters to art house indies. As a Warner Bros. employee, I'm privileged with a glimpse of Hollywood many don't see, but my opinions here are my own and not representative of the company.

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