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'Drive Angry' an absurdly fun ride



Article Published: Mar. 3, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
'Drive Angry' an absurdly fun ride

Nicolas Cage stars in 'Drive Angry.'



frank@mountaintimes.com

I'll just say it: Nicolas Cage has done good.

"Drive Angry" is absurdly fun, a throwback to B-movies of yesteryear - dumb in all the right ways and smart enough to know it.

Case in point: A scene where Cage's character is shooting villains, while simultaneously having sex and drinking whiskey. Let's face it, that's the stuff nightmares are made of, but "Drive Angry" simply asks that you buckle up and enjoy the oh-so bizarre ride.

Cage is more miss ("Ghost Rider") than hit ("The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans"), and he's effectively established a screen presence best described as "bat$# insane," and his off-screen antics serve a similar purpose.

But his over-the-top, manic style fits "Drive Angry" like one of those fingerless hobo gloves, frayed around the edges and surprisingly effective.

Cage plays John Milton (you know, like the author of "Paradise Lost"), a vengeful soul who's somehow escaped the pits of hell in a muscle car.

Uh huh.

He's returned to Earth seeking vengeance against the Satanic cult that murdered his daughter, led by charismatic sleaze Jonah King (Billy Burke, "Twilight"), who intends to sacrifice Milton's infant granddaughter on the night of a full moon.

This gives Milton only three days to save her, but ample time to shoot, run down and mutilate dozens of King's minions. He finds help - and a '69 Charger - in wayward greasy spoon waitress Piper (Amber Heard, "Zombieland"), who's pretty much lost everything and joins Milton for the hell of it (literally, I guess).

But hell's not about to let Milton get a free ride. Pursuing him is The Accountant (William Fichtner, "Date Night"), a cool-headed, snazzy-dressed collector of souls, who's determined to capture his bounty at almost any cost.

In "Drive Angry," the cost is exaggerated violence, gore galore, gratuitous nudity, cheesy dialogue and a preposterous story. Fortunately, there's also a tongue planted firmly in cheek. Gimmicky 3-D enhances the experience by cheapening it, successfully playing up the B-movie archetype.

Quite aware of this, the actors ham it up accordingly, with Fichtner effectively stealing the show. He plays The Accountant like a deadly, fish-out-of-water powerbroker from the '80s crossed with James Woods' Hades from Disney's "Hercules." But there's nothing G-rated about him. Were he not a minion of Satan, you'd probably be rooting for him over Milton.

As usual, Cage does crazy, but his off-kilter brand is a perfect fit for "Drive Angry." Ultra-violence aside, his performance barely differs from a typical Nic Cage action role, but director Patrick Lussier (2009's "My Bloody Valentine") delivers an ideal vehicle for excess - one that knows better than to even consider taking itself seriously.

As Piper, Heard is anything but a damsel in distress, playing her tough-as-nails character with a ferocity that's easy on the eyes but hard on villains, including King.

Burke plays the villain with a cool efficiency, but it's his lackeys and minions - a veritable army of homely white trash - that seem more menacing.

But there's really not much menace in "Drive Angry," just excess. It's the kind of movie that asks viewers to just go with it, regardless of where it predictably ends up - probably on Cinemas.

"Drive Angry," rated R for strong brutal violence throughout, grisly images, some graphic sexual content, nudity and pervasive language, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone.

For show times, visit http://www.mountaintimes.com/movies.

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