'Drive Angry 3D' (dir: Patrick Lussier, 2011), Cert: 18
What a better way to come down from the heavy awards season than this? Nicolas Cage is back in this latest 3D romp that boasts stunning visuals, absurd pyrotechnics and a bizarre take on satanic worship. Director Patrick Lussier brings us ‘Drive Angry’ which sees Cage leave his ‘performance year’ behind him and jump straight back into the driving seat of a carnage-filled festival, so let’s see the result.
Milton (Cage) escapes from hell to hunt down the man who murdered his daughter and kidnapped his granddaughter. As he prowls the streets of Southern America, he discovers Piper (Amber Heard); a beautiful young woman with a fiery attitude and a passion for muscle cars. The pair team up and head out to discover the truth behind these horrific events and see the culprit brought to justice.
This is why we have 3D cinema; we all know it’s just a gimmick and a great money-making tool, but films like this actually use it’s ‘benefits’ to an advantage. At every opportunity something flies out of the screen, or is aimed at the screen and makes ‘Drive Angry’ a hilariously over-the-top view. The best films I’ve seen in 3D have actually been the ‘worst’ overall. ‘Piranha’ (2010) and ‘My Bloody Valentine’ (2009, also directed by Lussier) both had tremendous 3D visuals and this film is now part of that list.
‘Drive Angry’ blends two things I love dearly; exploitation cinema and road movies. The film has that painfully cool 70s feel where everything seems tough and edgy; it’s all just metal on metal which makes the picture visually entertaining. Now as you can probably tell, the script is a little light but that was fully intended, this isn’t a film that requires an engaging narrative, it just needs the audience to say “Ooohhh” and “Aaahhh” in the right places.
|Still from 'Drive Angry 3D' (dir: Patrick Lussier, 2011)|
Having said that though, there is no denying that this film is mind-numbingly stupid, but I wouldn’t call this a criticism. It’s classic trashy dumb-fun that will leave you smiling throughout and have you in stitches at its appalling dialogue and ridiculous action. This film is clearly made for a male audience but I imagine women would find it enjoyable too if you can put up with your man drooling over Amber Heard for 104 minutes and giggling like a child at the tremendous stupidity of it all.
The performances aren’t particularly relevant but they are all watchable. Cage was a perfect casting choice for this film and he’s clearly in his comfort zone here. Milton just has to kill people, breath heavily and have sex with the odd woman so it’s hard to imagine him struggling with this performance. Heard is enjoyable too but she’s clearly there as eye-candy. William Fichtner is great as The Accountant; a man also from hell perusing Milton, and Billy Burke (Charlie Swan from the ‘Twilight’ saga) is hysterical as satanic soothsayer Jonah King. I think many ‘Twilight’ fans that see this will be surprised to see Burke slitting throats, drinking blood and raising the Dark Lord rather than telling Bella that Edward looks a bit dodgy.
Overall, ‘Drive Angry 3D’ succeeds as a popcorn roller-coaster flick that blends genre cinema and gallons of bloodshed brilliantly. It’s not a patch on the ‘Grindhouse’ movies but it’s a perfectly enjoyable piece of escapism with a great soundtrack, brilliant visuals and it's tongue firmly in it's cheek.
Pure dumb fun that will have you bouncing and grinning in your seat. Don’t expect greatness, expect stupidity.
By Chris Haydon