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Drive Angry (Frank's take)

01/03/2011. Contributed by Frank Ochieng

Buy Drive Angry in the USA - or Buy Drive Angry in the UK

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Who’s your daddy? Better yet…who’s your dead and deranged daddy? In this case it’s a long-haired and scruffy-looking Nicholas Cage as an avenging hellcat set on evening the score when his loved ones are periled in the suspenseful yet cockeyed actioner Drive Angry 3D.

Director-writer Patrick Lussier (“My Bloody Valentine”) cranks up the outrageous volume as he preposterously puts the pedal to the medal in grinding out an exploitative joyride that’s unapologetic in its outlandish hedonism. Thankfully for Cage the high-octane Drive Angry 3D is a sizzling guilty pleasure that gleefully overloads on the sexual and violent content—and to surprisingly sufficient results.

It’s no big surprise that Cage has been taking a critical beating in the soured cinematic choices that he’s been toiling in with gasping indifference. Although Drive Angry 3D may not be enough to counterpunch Cage’s recent rancid Season of the Witch debacle it does give the maligned Oscar winner something to sink his tenacious teeth into—an over-the-top action thriller that packs the popcorn energy surge like it was no one’s business. Slick and sleazy in its grindhouse effect, Drive Angry 3D is indeed throwaway cinema…but also wildly imaginative if one doesn’t mind letting the brain cells deteriorate in Lussier’s manufactured madness.

Cage is John Milton, the disgruntled dead man that has escaped the caustic confines of Hell to exact revenge on the undesirables that killed his daughter and kidnapped his granddaughter. The target in question that Milton wants to hold accountable for this dilemma is cult leader Jonah King (Billy Burke, “Twilight”)—the sick puppy that is responsible for the demise of his daughter and son-in-law. The twisted Jonah wants to perform some ritualistic sacrifice on Milton’s granddaughter so the clock is ticking as Milton has borrowed time on Earth to engage in his furious vendetta.

Joining Milton on his crusade to kick some serious fanatical butt is Whip-Ass Wonder waitress Piper (Amber Heard), a carousing companion willing to give herself to Milton completely. She is generous in her services as she makes her sensual and kinetic body available to the miffed Milton. More important, Piper’s revved-up muscle car is on hand to transport the perturbed pair from one spot to another as they leave countless bodies in the path of their deadly mission to track down the despicable Jonah.

Regardless of the flying body parts, gratuitous language, souped-up vehicles, boisterous gunplay and sexually-charged dalliances Milton and Piper are focused and fixated on the chaotic results—to secure Jonah King before his drastic move endangers his precious grandbaby.

As if Milton does not have enough on his plate to contend with he is being chased by a demonic instigator known as The Accountant (William Fichtner), an agent of Satan’s that wants Milton returned to the ghoulish gates of Hell. Amid the blazing guns and dire determination can the irascible Milton save his beloved baby girl while dodging the clutches of the pesky Accountant closing in on his exposed tail?

The triumphant element about Drive Angry 3D is its trashy, trumped up adrenaline rush that is strangely lyrical. Lussier (and fellow screenwriter Todd Farmer) impishly amps up the orchestrated mayhem as this landslide of lunacy radiates with blunt sass. This is mindless junk cinema that strut its stuff to the outlandish overtones of wounded femme fatales finding bliss in brutality and carnal cravings while testosterone-driven Neanderthals madly push the frenetic buttons to cater to their cartoonish bullet-spraying frustrations. Casualties are merely the bloody obstacles that stand in the way to the bigger picture—the excitement of jolting nonsense meant to give Drive Angry 3D its raw, overextended purpose of uncontrollable pulp.

As the raging Dead Daddy Dearest, Cage for once shines as a ragged anti-hero genuinely engulfed by the worthy wackiness surrounding his unsettling universe. Granted that Cage has delved into some pretty putrid fare as of late but there’s something cynically spirited about his turn in Drive that feels refreshingly contemptuous and unconventionally off-kilter. It will take more for Cage to redeem his on-screen credibility but he’s at ease in this rickety, rollicking ride. Wisely, Drive Angry 3D escaped any Gone in 60 Seconds comparisons…and rightfully so as this current fuelled gas guzzler has more inspired zip than Cage’s 2000 crash dummy caper.

Roguishly titillating is the fist-wielding Heard as the curvaceous Piper chopping away the vermin. Both Burke’s Jonah King and Fichtner’s The Accountant are fabulously menacing as the animated thorn in Cage’s/Milton’s begrudging backside. Overall, the colourful car chases, flamboyant fist fights, bloodied bystanders, saucy gunfights, wily sex scenes—all are on amazing display in silly, in-your-face mode. There is no sermonising or redemptive preaching in Drive Angry 3D as its main function is to turn the tables upside down in its glorified ribaldry.

As a supernatural action flick that backs up its flourished craziness, Drive Angry 3D switches its roaring gears convincingly.

Drive Angry 3D (2011) Summit Entertainment
1 hr. 44 mins.
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Billy Burke, David Morse, Charlotte Ross, Christa Campbell, Todd Farmer
Directed by: Patrick Lussier
MPAA Rating: R

Critic’s Rating: ** ˝ stars (out of 4 stars)

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