Sunday, June 5, 2011

DRIVE ANGRY 3D (2011) - Review

Director Patrick Lussier, once an editor who often worked on Wes Craven movies like the "Scream" trilogy and a few more, is now an up-and-coming master of cheesy horror and 3D auteur extraordinaire. With movies like "My Bloody Valentine" and a modernized "Dracula" trilogy, it's hard to walk into a movie like "Drive Angry" expecting some kind of intellectual awakening. On the other hand, that's exactly why someone who is as much into B-flicks as I am, might want to give this one a try.

The story is as simple as they come. Nicholas Cage plays John Milton, your typical anti-hero, who escapes from hell to track down a satanic cult leader (Billy Burke) who killed his daughter and kidnapped her baby girl. In his quest he is joined by the foul-mouthed fist-slinging Piper (Amber Heard), who gives the movie a lot more spunk than it deserves. The road to revenge is riddled with dangers of all sorts and the bodycount starts ramping up as John and Piper clear a path towards the final showdown. Meanwhile, a dark mysterious stranger, calling himself The Accountant (William Fichtner), is trying to find John and return him to Hell.

As far as exploitation flicks go, "Drive Angry" is a fine example. The violence is hard, frequent, over-the-top and quite imaginative. The car chases aren't terribly spectacular but are satisfying. The least impressive parts can be blamed on the visual effects. Sometimes the CGI is good, like the Hell sequences in the intro and outro, but most of the time it's too low budget to be considered eye candy. In particular, I have a problem with a certain scene involving a hydrogen truck. The effects almost look like the stop-motion animation of ancient times. Now, such an important set piece deserved some better looking CGI, at least. Too often it looks like the director cut corners in order to fit within the budget limits, which is a shame. The 3D gets some good mileage, but I honestly prefer the 2D version. It's not the movie's defining trait and I'll leave it at that.

William Fichtner as The Accountant
The best thing in the whole flick is the acting, although it shouldn't have been that kind of movie. Nic Cage shows admirable restraint, in a role that begged for some scenery chewing, Amber Heard is on fire as the ass-kicking redneck vixen and Fichtner is the best thing that could have happened to this movie, because The Accountant is a compendium of coolness and his twitchy otherworldly demeanor generates some genuinely twisted and funny scenes. David Morse gets a neat cameo part that is also a highlight of this movie. So, if you can stomach the violence and have the ability to enjoy the raunchiness without demanding anything but brainless fun from an action movie, then "Drive Angry" is what you're looking for.

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