The craze for 3-D movies is still working its way to the big screen across the country. I’ve found it amusing at times but on the whole I could do away with the need to wear a second pair of glasses let alone the extra expense that a ticket for a 3-D film entails. Perhaps it was that expense that caused DRIVE ANGRY to not be the big hit it was expected to be. This is unfortunate because all in all it was a fun film.
The films starts off with a bang as John Milton (Nicolas Cage) revs down the road in a muscle car intent on catching three bad guys in truck. He forces them to crash, shoots one’s hand off, blasts the second and then threatens the third unless he gives him information. It seems that he is chasing a group of bad guys with one purpose: to save a baby they’ve kidnapped.
As the story unfolds we finally discover that Cage was a very bad man in his own right who was killed and sent to Hell. He escaped when he witness his daughter’s death at the hands of Jonah King (Billie Burke), a satanic cult leader who intends to sacrifice her child on the next full moon in the hopes of bringing Hell to Earth. Milton has set his sights on revenge and only the rescue of the child and death of King will suffice.
As he sets out to track down King, Milton requires a new car having crashed the last one. A chance encounter with a young waitress named Piper (Amber Heard) leads to a ride down the road. When he saves her from an abusive boyfriend after she’s been knocked unconscious, the pair head south for Florida via Louisiana. FL is her destination, LA his.
Along the way the pair is being followed by two different people. The first is a man who refers to himself as “The Accountant” (William Fichtner). In actuality this is Hell’s agent on Earth trying to track down and recollect Milton. Why he can’t just pop in and out where he wants is never explained but like all Hell employed bounty hunters he just follows and kills along his way to catch the escapee.
A run in with the followers of King leads to Piper and Milton being captured. As King speeds off with Piper and the baby having just shot Milton one would think the film would end. But keep in mind that Milton is already dead and a headshot won’t be the sort of thing to stop him.
The film rolls along with tons of car chases and mayhem, explosions and gunfight, until a final confrontation between Milton and King finally arrives.
This is the stuff that drive-in movies were made of back in their heyday during the seventies: cars speeding down the highway, cults that just seem downright stupid, gun battles using guns that never seem to run out of ammo and a smattering of nudity here and there. As I watched I kept thinking of past films like VANISHING POINT and RACE WITH THE DEVIL, to classics of the genre.
The film is filled with completely unbelievable items that you either accept as part of the universe it is set in or just shake your head asking how anyone could expect you to believe it at all. Perhaps the most extreme (and the raciest) is when Milton is in the middle of having sex only to leap up still attached and begin shooting bad guys left and right. Not only does this tell you how unbelievable the film is but also how it got the R rating it deserves as well.
Cage does a great job as the determined tough guy out to take down those worse than him for a noble cause. Fichtner is amazing to watch as the smooth operating collector who feels no remorse taking out various bad guys or telling people he’ll seem them soon, some in years others in months. And Heard plays the young woman sucked into a world she is completely unaware of only to feel the need to help Milton in his quest.
Some will be offended by the whole sacrifice idea (used in tons of movies in the 60s and 70s before it became something to really fear), some will not be keen on the idea of a hero in the form of an escapee from Hell and others will be offended by the bloodshed and nudity. I mention these as a warning for those easily offended. For the rest who are just looking for 105 minutes of pure escapist fun then make sure you give this one a watch.