Drive Angry 3D seemed to have all the elements of a proper Yakmala! film: ridiculous action, a non-existent story, and starring roles for Yakmala! alumni Nicolas “Wicker Man” Cage and Billy “Charlie Swan” Burke. I had heard from several people that the movie fit right in to the “so bad, it’s awesome” paradigm, and I awaited wholeheartedly.
Sadly, it didn’t live up to, at least, my expectations (I don’t want to speak for the remainder of us that watched it, but they seemed similarly nonplussed). For all the promised (and delivered) insanity, it was the worst thing a movie like this can be: boring.
I’ll try to recount the plot, and, believe me, this is a pointless task, but first, I need to level a charge of false advertising against the marketing folks at Summit. OK, false advertising is a bit harsh, but they left out one major point in all the advertising.
Let me ask you all a question: were you aware that the movie had a huge supernatural element to it? I ask this not to say I was horribly offended by it. If Summit wants to make a film about a man escaping from hell to keep his granddaughter from being sacrificed in the name of Satan, all while dodging an “Accountant” from Hades, go nuts. But NOTHING in the commercials I saw mentioned anything about this. I expected a Gone in 60 Seconds retread; instead, we got Ghost Rider 1.5 (as Erik put it).
So, the plot. Well, I covered the basics earlier: Cage escapes from hell to find his infant granddaughter has been kidnapped by a cult leader (Billy Burke, apparently a graduate from the James Carville Voice Academy) who will sacrifice her to Satan for… something. I really don’t know, and I really didn’t care. Amber Heard shows up in Daisy Dukes to curse and punch a couple of people and wear Daisy Dukes, and that’s VERY nice, but she doesn’t add much else to the proceedings.
Not that the director isn’t trying; on paper, Drive Angry is batshit crazy. Guys get impaled on sticks, guys get their limbs shot off, women are running around nude (and in one scene, shooting simultaneously [where do they hide the extra clip?]), and cars explode with the same frequency leaves fall off an oak tree in autumn. But… it’s all so BORING. There’s no excitement in any of it, and thanks to an overuse of slo-mo (the legacy Zack Snyder has left us), some of it is excruciatingly overlong.
Prime example: there’s a scene early on when Cage is banging a burnt-out waitress played by Charlotte Ross (apparently, being a Bochco alum doesn’t make you bulletproof against shitty roles). WHILE he’s fucking her, a dozen thugs break in with weapons. WHILE he’s fucking her, Cage pulls out a gun and shoots them to death. And WHILE he’s fucking her, one of the thugs hits Cage with a cattle prod, which of course sends Ross into an insane climax.
(Trufax: when Cage got hit with the cattle prod, we all simultaneously looked at each other and asked, “Wait, wouldn’t that transfer to her?” Next shot: her orgasming. So at least the filmmakers understood cause and effect. Somewhat.)
Now a scene like that should be awesome on a very base level. But because it’s filmed in the slowest slo-mo possible – hummingbirds have been filmed with fewer frames per second – it’s just boring. There are twelve of these guys, and Cage has to dispatch ALL of them. You have guns blazing, limbs flying, and Charlotte Ross’ titties all over the place, and you just don’t give a damn. That’s the problem with the rest of the movie, too. It just plods along, explosion after explosion. It’s at least fifteen minutes too long, as well; a movie like this has no business being 105 minutes long. Taken was fantastic, and it was only about 85 minutes.
Now, what does the movie get right? Two words: William Fichtner, eternal “that guy.” His appearance in the film was a surprise, and as it continued, it became a pleasant surprise. He plays an equally supernatural Accountant who seems at first to be a villain for Cage, but winds up being a sort-of ally. Fichtner moves through the movie doing his best Walken, and every scene he’s in is better for it. In fact, when the movie drags (further) in the middle, we realized it didn’t pick back up until Fichtner returned.
There are two terms in Yakmala!-speak regarding supporting characters: Torgo and Croker. Each are characters from Manos: The Hands of Fate and Evil Alien Conquerors, respectively. A Torgo is a character that seems to wander in from his own film; in this case, the much more entertaining film charting the Accountant’s search for Cage. A Croker is a side character who elevates the movie and everyone else in it when he arrives. Fichtner accomplishes this in Drive Angry with little effort. Billy Burke is also mildly entertaining in the movie, if only for his Cajunesque drawl and inexplicably 70s-era silk shirts. But Fichtner takes the ball and runs it into the end zone. All hail Fichtner.
Despite this, the film still fails; obviously as a quality piece of art, but even as an entertaining piece of shit. Cage is remarkably subdued (almost sedated), and the sex and violence that aims to titillate just leaves you cold. After an hour and a half (and a surprise appearance by David Morse!) you just wanna turn in. And then there’s still fifteen minutes to go. And, as if I had to tell you, the 3D is ridiculous. We didn’t actually see it in 3D, but you can obviously tell what elements were supposed to jump out at you.
I was hoping for this to be a proud addition to the Yakmala! family, especially given Nicolas Cage’s “Professor Emeritus” title, but I don’t think it quite got there. It’s too boring, and after a while, you just want it to end. And, as is the case with Yakmala! films, boring is the kiss of death.
I don’t want to end on a down note, so here’s a shot of Amber Heard in Daisy Dukes: