Drive Angry
Angry isn’t the emotion I’m feeling right now. But my pants feel tighter.

Theatrical Release Date: 02/25/2011
Director: Patrick Lussier
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Billy Burke, David Morse, Todd Farmer, Christa Campbell
Rated: R for strong brutal violence throughout, grisly images, some graphic sexual content, nudity and pervasive language.
Runtime: 1 hour, 44 minutes


Tell me honestly, does anyone take me seriously anymore?

Whether it’s an attempt to keep presupposed scathing reviews from appearing too early or because the genre is fairly critic proof, members of the press were treated to 9 PM screenings of “Drive Angry” the night before it opened.

It’s not the first time a film has been screened so close to its opening and it won’t be the last. However, seeing as I’m the senior editor here, I can decide that if that’s the way critics’ deadlines will be treated, then we have every right to prepare the review in only the time remaining until the film opens.

As of right now, there are 15 minutes until midnight. This review will be done by then.

“Drive Angry” uses the premise that Nicolas Cage has escaped Hell, in a heroic and selfless quest to rescue his infant granddaughter who’s been kidnapped by Billy Burke (you know, Sheriff Mustache from the “Twilight” franchise). She’s destined for a satanic sacrifice obviously, and sometime within the 105 minute runtime, Cage will join forces with a headstrong hottie (Amber Heard), stay one step ahead of Hell’s bounty hunter (William Fichtner) and leave a trail of satan worshipper bodies on the road behind him.

Casting wise, the film gets it right. Cage is perfectly believable in this role, since it’s essentially a supernaturally charged version of “Gone in 60 Seconds”, with Heard playing the part of Jolie and Fichtner giving Delroy Lindo’s shoes a try. And while I’ve long since given up on trying to reconcile Cage’s characters (how is this different from “Ghost Rider”, “Con Air”, etc., etc.?), at least those who enjoy campy fun can partake in Fichtner’s excellent take on the character and everyone who likes beautiful women can enjoy Amber Heard (who’s gorgeous in every dimension).

Speaking of dimensions, there’s been a big marketing push touting the 3D in the film. Well, a lot of that hype is actually essentially true. The opening scene is well designed and executed to utilize the third dimension. Pretty much everything else from there is a hit or miss. Some elements come off spectacularly, while most fall into the humdrum category. It’s clear that action filmmakers are beginning to get a handle on how to use their new toys but whether you spend the extra cash or not won’t change your life or ultimately change your perception of the film.

Hmmm … less than 4 minutes left. Okay, time to wrap this up. “Drive Angry” basically delivers on the premise and I’ve seen far, far worse this year so I’ll give it a 3 out of 5. The plot development and action is very uneven, and I was hoping the middle section was actually the end, as I was feeling the minutes tick by every time the characters stopped to explain something that really didn’t need explaining. Still, if you just have to see an action film and realize that Nic Cage is … well, Nic Cage, in every film – then go ahead and check this out.

P.S. It’s midnight. I win.

3 out of 53D Maybe