' ' Cinema Romantico: Drive Angry 3D

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Drive Angry 3D

I had yearned to see "Drive Angry 3D" ever since I saw a preview for it back in December that advised the character played by Nicolas Cage had broken out of hell. I repeat, he broke out of hell. This is to say he was in hell but then broke out. Sure, sure, I became more excited when I found out William Fichtner was playing The Devil's Right Hand Man and that the movie would be in 3D but really, guys, you had me at Nicolas Cage broke out of hell.

As it turns out, the 3D of "Drive Angry" is entirely superfluous. Oh, there are some nifty little 3D what-have-yas sprinkled here and there throughout but this movie in spirit belongs at a drive-in. In rural Texas. In the middle of summer. On a night with searing humidity and heat lightning in the distance. "Drive Angry 3D" does a disservice to cinematic trash. This goes beyond trash. This is a Staten Island Garbage Barge. Loud, obnoxious, violent, gratuitous, and terrible - sometimes greatly terrible but, in the end, mostly, disappointingly, just plain terrible.

A little ways in Nicolas Cage finds himself, mid-coitus, in a hotel shootout, while he continues to chew on a cigar and take shots of whiskey, while The Raveonettes play on the soundtrack. At this point you will either get up and walk out or laugh so hard you will settle in for the long haul. The irony is the movie never really manages to recapture the magical grotesqueness of this sequence.

Cage is John Milton - who could be named after this guy but is probably named after this guy. He has, if you didn't know, broken out of hell because his baby granddaughter is set to be sacrificied by light of the next full moon by Jonah King (Billy Burke), the leader of some dixie-based Satanic cult, and Milton's gotta save her. He teams up with Piper (Amber Heard, who, in the right light, kinda looks like Naomi Watts by way of a Louisiana roadhouse), a hot-to-trot waitress who quits her job and breaks up with her boyfriend all in a manner of minutes.

Meanwhile, The Accountant (Fichtner, so laid back it's tough to tell if he's having a good time or just counting his cash) has followed Milton from the depths of hell in order to bring him back, though he might - say again, might - have a slightly wavering agenda.

"Drive Angry 3D", of course, is supposed to be of the It's So Bad, It's Good variety but its director and co-writer, Patrick Lussier, somehow, strangely, seems confused by both pace and tone. You may argue that pace and tone have no place in a movie such as this but I wholly beg to differ. If you're gonna be So Bad, It's Good then you gotta up the ante on the Bad and Lussier seems unwilling or unable to up it. There is no sense of comic timing to provide the necessary laughs - a can't miss sequence with a Hydrogen Truck, for instance, misses because he can't really exploit the idea beyond the idea itself - and just when the movie should be shifting into the utterly overblown for the third act it completely lets us down with routine dullness.

The performance of Nicolas Cage is a different matter. Another character describes Milton as "a walking contradiction" but this also aptly summarizes the real life Cage. He has officially gone where no actor has gone before. Not just with this movie but in general. There is no point anymore to wondering why an Oscar winner chooses these sorts roles, whether he needs money, whether he's crazy and/or "crazy", etc. This is not for us to say. He has his own agenda and he's sticking to it, okay? Charlie Sheen as a "Vatican Assassin Warlock"? Puh-leeze. That's Nic Cage's role. I know I'd buy a ticket.


Jacob said...

Just to clarify. You will see "Drive Angry: 3D" but you wont' see "GI Joe 2"?? Your standards are strange to me. If you are going to see trashy action flicks you might as well see the ones that totally exploit your childhood. I mean a movie based on a movie based on a cartoon based on a toy. That's where you draw the line?

Nick Prigge said...

I think I made myself quite clear in the opening paragraph. Let me capitalize for you.


That's why I saw this movie. That, and that alone. And yes, I should have known better. But seriously...


I was powerless to resist. If we could just get a movie where Sienna Miller breaks out of hell. And drinks scotch while she does it.

Derek Armstrong said...

Great read.

Jacob, I'd say that the G.I. Joe movie is its own kind of badness. In a way, G.I. Joe made me sadder than I think Drive Angry would make me sad. While Drive Angry is, I'm sure, aggressively bad, G.I. Joe was just empty and pointless.

You say that Amber Heard looks like Naomi Watts -- I don't necessarily get that, but then, I haven't seen this movie. The reason this interests me is that I am always comparing the physical appearance of Amber Heard to two other actresses: Theresa Palmer (Take Me Home Tonight) and Kristen Stewart.

Nick Prigge said...

There are really only a few moments where she looks like Naomi Watts and the lighting and the framing have to be just right but when it happens - specifically a couple times near the end - it seemed uncanny to me.

Jacob said...

But didn't Nicolas Cage already break out of hell in Ghost Rider?

Nick Prigge said...

Well, I haven't seen Ghost Rider but the synopsis for it on IMDB is this: "(S)tunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze gives up his soul to become a hellblazing vigilante, to fight against power hungry Blackheart, the son of the devil himself." So it doesn't appear that he actually breaks out of hell.

I think the whole problem is that when I heard the words "break out of hell" in the preview I foolishly assumed there would be an opening stanza where Nicolas Cage escaped from hell in the same manner as Eastwood escpaing from Alcatraz. Alas, it was not to be. It would probably would have been best to let me do a rewrite.

Derek Armstrong said...

As part of your rewrite, could you just have advised them not to make the movie at all?