Or: There’s a lot of driving and a lot of anger, but for some reason not much angry driving
Let’s be honest here, there's really only two people who saw the trailer for Drive Angry and immediately said, "I have to see that!" The first category is people who loved the National Treasure series, really liked the Gone in 60 Seconds remake, and realized that that the only other big name movie coming out this week was Hall Pass; and that just didn’t have enough Nicholas Cage. The other group is like me.
See, I have a penchant for enjoying bad movies because of their badness. It's just fun to go see a movie you know is going to be terrible with a group of friends, laughing at all the horrendous dialogue and (possibly) ridiculous action scenes. That being said, this might be a bold statement, but I believe Drive Angry might be a perfectly bad movie.
The trailers for the film did very little to highlight the plot, which is probably for the best as far as actually getting people to come see the film, but it does mean that the movie has a bit of a surprise waiting for those who go to see it. For example, who would have guessed from the trailers that the plot involves Nicholas Cage escaping form hell itself (literally) to get back his granddaughter whose parents (Nic Cage’s daughter and son-in-law) were brutally murdered by Jonah King (Billy Burke), the leader of a cult they belonged to. Yeah… that's the plot.
The film has a very heavy paranormal aspect to it, with Nic Cage himself pretty much able to withstand any injuries (he is, after all, already dead); and meanwhile, a character known only as "the accountant" (William Fichtner) possesses supernatural powers and is searching for Cage in order to bring him back to hell where he’s supposed to be. Oh, and there's also a female lead (Amber Heard) riding alongside Cage’s character, and a squad of police led by a Stan Lee lookalike police chief (David Morse) trying to apprehend the two of them.
If that sounds like a muddled plot, that’s probably because it is. At its core, the story here is pretty straight forward, and it's a tale of revenge (albeit from beyond the grave); but there's a lot of other things going on as well. Really, though, this movie doesn’t try to be anything other than what it is – a fun action flick. Most of the extraneous plots are unimportant and treated as such, and a lot of the extra characters are thrown in simply to tie up plot points in the main story, or to populate the action scenes.
The best part about this film is that it easily caters to both of the categories listed above. Yes, for any action flick aficionados out there, the movie has plenty to satiate your tastes (the film starts with a car chase that ends with Nic Cage shooting three dudes and blowing up a car). But for those who simply want to have a good laugh at some cheesy B-movie camp, well the movie caters to those folks too.
The poor acting in the film adds to this B-Movie feeling, Nic Cage in particular manages to give already cheesy lines an extra layer of cheesiness. The music ties well into this as well, with a "sick" guitar riff playing every time Nic Cage does something cool (one fight scene in particular had me laughing out loud because of the way they went about this).
One of the film’s biggest "selling points," is the fact that it was "filmed in 3D," and I would be remiss if I did not discuss this aspect of the film. Yes, the 3D visuals are kind of neat, but for the most part they’re used as more of a "oh look, the bullet is actually coming AT me" trick (this happens on at least three separate occasions throughout the movie). The 3D isn't really used to give depth to the film the way that Pixar uses it, but like I said above, it's not really necessary. There are certain scenes where the 3D effects are a tad nauseating, but they pass quickly and they aren’t too bad.
All in all, as a film, Drive Angry fails miserably. As an experience though, as something to see with friends, Drive Angry definitely delivers. The only thing that bogs down your experience of this movie are the scenes where someone isn’t being shot at, but those scenes are luckily few and far between. Yes, obviously Drive Angry isn’t for everyone, but for those looking for a fun campy time, or even a decent action movie, there’s something to be gained here. Still, you might want to wait for it to come out on DVD.
Rating for Drive Angry 3D
Rating (out of 10 )
Edit: As Dan pointed out in the comments, I mistakenly accredited David Morse to the role of the police chief in the film. That role is played by Tom Atkins. David Morse plays a friend of Nic Cage's named Webster. Sorry for any confusion this may have caused, though to be honest the whole movie is a confusing mess anyway.