‘Angry’ sunk by Cage’s bad acting

by Carmen Splane

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Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

Nicolas Cage’s all-out assault on cinema goes in for its second kill in the 3-D disaster known as “Drive Angry.” Earlier this year, Cage’s “Season of the Witch” scarred the eyes and minds of thousands, and just when it seemed the worst was over, “Drive Angry” comes along in 3-D and three times as bad.

Director Patrick Lussier desperately tries his hand at the horror / exploitation genre and fails miserably at trying to gain the cult appeal of Quentin Tarantino’s “Grindhouse.” An orgy of manufactured “bad-assery,” “Drive Angry” has enough random acts of machismo to fill an entire episode of “The Man Show.”

John Milton (Cage) has just escaped from hell (in a muscle car, of course) and is hot on the trail of Charles Manson-like cult leader, Jonah King (Billy Burke). Jonah is responsible for the death of John’s only daughter and is planning to sacrifice his granddaughter in an occult ceremony unless John can stop him. As a fugitive of the Underworld, John is relentlessly pursued by Satan’s accountant (William Fichtner), whose Christopher Walken-like persona is thrown in for much-needed but poorly focused comic relief.

The plot takes a turn for the better when fiery sidekick Piper (Amber Heard) enters the picture. With enough brawn to match her beauty, she is a welcomed distraction from Cage’s stagnant screen presence.

As much as her performance is appreciated, it isn’t enough to save the movie, whose writers were obviously exempt from any type of substance abuse restrictions while writing this script. Characters float in and out of scenes with little regard to plot development or common sense. More than once, the pursuer and the pursued simply pass like strangers in the night without much struggle or tension.

Even more disheartening is the lack of faith the writers have in the intelligence of the audience. For instance, in one climactic scene, something unexpected happens and one of the characters exclaims, “That was unexpected.”

Despite their many faults, the writers cannot be fully blamed for the fact that this movie falls flat on virtually all levels. When John is in the same room as the granddaughter he has been so desperately trying to rescue, he tells Jonah “Give me the baby” in the same dry, monotone voice that he orders coffee with earlier in the movie.

Chock-full of gratuitous violence, fake boobs and southern stereotypes, the only positive counter for the excessive amounts of testosterone and chauvinism in this movie is the sidekick, Piper. Going against the cliché format that turns sidekick into love-interest, Piper is able to keep her status as a respectable, strong female figure without taking off her clothes.

But then again, what actress in their right mind would be able to fall in love with Cage on-screen while maintaining a straight face.

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