Movie review: Drive Angry

On Blu-ray and DVD

“Drive Angry,” written by Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier, directed by Lussier, 105 minutes, rated R.

If there’s one thing that everybody can agree on, it’s that “Drive Angry” knows what it is. Just look at the title. Pretty much all of its cards are on the table right there.

Nicolas Cage stars as John Milton (an intentional “Paradise Lost” reference or not? Your call), an escapee from Hell looking to avenge his daughter’s death by saving his infant granddaughter from the clutches of a cult.

The cult in question is led by Jonah King (Billy Burke, who has a devilishly good time in this role), a cross between Jim Morrison and Jim Jones. His goal is simple: Sacrifice Milton’s granddaughter during the next full moon and open the gates of Hell.

Along the way Milton picks up a Southern live-wire named Piper (Amber Heard) while being chased down by The Accountant (William Fichtner, brilliant), an agent from Hell looking to recover Lucifer’s lost prisoner.

“Drive Angry” has fast cars, a big budget, tons of stunts and explosions. Yet, there’s something missing. Brains, perhaps? Yes and no.

While full of winks and nudges, director Patrick Lussier doesn’t quite know how to handle the material. Where other movies of excess (“Planet Terror” or maybe “The Expendables”) successfully walk a thin line between schlock and entertainment, Lussier just goes balls to the walls with schlock.

“Drive Angry” falls into a category alongside Jason Eisener’s “Hobo with a Shotgun.” It throws as much as it can at the audience and hopes it sticks. The problem is that not a lot of it does.

The action and everything that accompanies it becomes second-nature after three or four scenes. Instead of watching a film, it’s almost as though Lussier is pushing the audience from scene to scene by showing us just how extreme “Drive Angry” is. With each explosion and in-your-face gunshot, he asks: “Whoa did you see that? Whoa … did you see that, again? Now watch this.”

With the exception of Fichtner and Burke, “Drive Angry” never wants to be anything more than what it is. And that’s fine if you’re looking for a high-budget movie with that straight-to-video vibe, but for $50 million, I expect a little more.

Grade: C-

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2 Responses to Movie review: Drive Angry

  1. Kate says:

    I’m thinking that that has to be a Paradise Lost reference– it’s just too much of a coincidence.

  2. ac12262 says:

    Paradise Lost reference or no Paradise Lost reference, I still found this film quite entertaining. It is by no means one of my favorites of the year, but for me, it worked.

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