Directed by Patrick Lussier, Written by Todd Farner and Patrick Lussier, 104 minutes, Rated R.
By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowitz
Clean visuals, overly loud guns and bad CGI. Is this exploitation cinema for the Hollywood set? Director Patrick Lussier would have you believe so. His loud, boob-and-blood-filled vision of apocalypse shares much in common with the B-Movies that inspired it, but "Drive Angry 3D" isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.
Nicholas Cage returns from Hell to avenge the death of his daughter by hunting down her cult leader murderer before another falls at his hands. However, no one leaves Hell without permission, and hot on Cage's trail is the Accountant (William Fichtner), who tracks down Hell's fugitives.
"Drive Angry" makes the mistake of throwing everything but the kitchen sink into the picture. The big guns and even bigger cars overload the screen with "cool" -- it's a veritable what's what of things considered badass. But with all of these forces counteracting each other, they eventually neutralize their presence.
Much of the film plays like an unofficial remake of "The Terminator," and it borrows that film's sound design. Punches sound like gun shots, gun shots sound like explosions, and cars sound like locomotives. At several points in the film, don't be surprised if you give up and start covering your ears.
Lussier puts so much stock in 3D and loud noises that he ignores his strongest asset--Cage. Rather than allowing his scene-chewing lunacy to take over, Cage goes for his stone-faced lurch that puts most of his action films underground. Cage is a bore onscreen, and his repeated saving of co-star Amber Heard doesn't help to freshen the action.
Heard's place in the plot is all but entirely lost. She should be acting as a guide through this otherworldly tale, but Cage and Fichtner seem well enough off without her.
"Drive Angry" is never as cool as it thinks it is. It's filled with explicit sex and violence, yet none of it is ever stylized in a memorable or fun way. Unlike "Death Proof," which showed both a knowledge of the genre and a respect for it, "Drive Angry" only gives a cursory understanding of what makes exploitation films fun.
It takes heart, attitude and innovation to make a decent low-budget movie. When you shoot half your film on a green screen and the other half telling yourself that this demon-killing gun is the trick to winning your audience's approval, don't expect the film to benefit. “Drive Angry 3D is occasionally fun, but rarely anything great.