Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman reviews Drive Angry 3D

Yes, I realize that Nicolas Cage is the star of the Drive Angry movie – but I thought you might prefer a picture of Amber Heard to represent the film. And lets get this out of the way: She doesn’t get naked in the movie. Why would I point that out you ask? Because Drive Angry is that kind of movie.

Nicolas Cage is on a mission – and he escapes from Hell itself (in an opening sequence that looks more video game than anything else) in order to accomplish it. Director Patrick Lussier wastes no time whatsoever introducing us to just what sort of film this is, with a scene in which Cage (playing a fellow named Milton) takes down three rough-hewn rednecks without much trouble at all. By the time we’re about five minutes into the film we know it’s going to be filled with cheesy (in a good way) one-liners, more f-bombs than you can count, and tons o’ violence and gore. It takes about another five minutes before we get to the sex and nudity (not complaining, just saying). Drive Angry isn’t rated R – it’s RATED R.

We are soon introduced to Piper (played by the gorgeous Amber Heard). She’s a southern, hot, foul-mouthed yet compassionate gal (who wants to be married) who happens to be engaged to a guy who causes her to hesitate (a lot) when asked whether “he’s a good man” (within about 60 seconds of the question being asked she and the audience get the answer). Piper and Milton are thrown together when he comes to her rescue and because he is in need of the ’69 Charger she drives. He’s in a hurry to catch up with a cult leader (played by Billy Burke, who also played Bella’s dad in the Twilight films) before the next full moon for reasons that are made clear soon enough.

Milton is gentlemanly enough with Piper and he seems to be more than a bit behind the times (he refers to a cell phone as a “portable phone”). However he is not someone to cross and does not hesitate to kill to defend himself. He actually does so in a scene that I won’t spoil, but is about as wild a shootout, uh, situation as I’ve ever seen in a film.

William Fichtner in 'Drive Angry 3D'

Tracking him we have William Fitchner as “The Accountant,” and he is without a doubt the best thing in this movie. Fitchner does a lot of supporting role work, and you might best remember him as the mob-connected bank manager in the opening scenes of The Dark Knight. The man is obviously having such a great time in this movie, but he manages to contain it just enough to where you feel like you’re sharing an inside joke with him. He’s funny, dry and some of the subtle expressions that travel across his face put a grin on mine just thinking about it. If there’s one thing that might tempt me to see this film again, it’s his character and performance.

Amber Heard holds her own throughout the film as the tough-as-nails redneck chick – I was actually pretty surprised. Then again, it could be the film that surrounds her that makes her performance seem better than it is… nah, she actually did OK. However, when incredible actor David Morse appears as Webster, Milton’s old friend, the comparison is jarring. Within seconds (literally) Morse completely owns the scenes in which he appears with Cage and Heard and it just makes the differences in performance quite glaring.

Tom Atkins also has a small role in the film, and he chews up the scenery like it’s the last, best film he’ll ever do – really over the top – but again, it’s the sort of performance that makes you smile. And while Billy Burke is my favorite thing about the Twilight movies, here, while he delivers a suitably evil bad guy, he seems one-dimensional to me – although I suppose it’s a fit for a movie of this type.

Nicolas Cage in a scene from 'Drive Angry 3D'

And then we come to Nicolas Cage. I know there’s a lot of hate for the guy out there (which frankly, I just don’t get), but surprisingly in a movie like this – where you’d expect him to go “full Cage” – he actually plays it low key. I’d have to say this was one of the mildest demonstrations of his performance style that I’ve seen – less over-the-top than his performance in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice – and that was actually quite a surprise. In fact, I might even say I missed seeing his trademark performance… especially in a film where you’d expect it big time. That’s not to say he doesn’t play it cheesy: in the opening scene he let out a line of dialog that was so cliche (on purpose) that it had me laughing out loud.

As to the 3D – there were some interesting uses of it, from the more subtle to the gimmicky overt with bullets and other things flying out of the screen. From me, director Lussier gets big points for shooting the movie using 3D cameras. I’ve gotten so used to bad, post-production 3D that I spend about the first 15 minutes watching a shot in 3D movie looking for the telltale signs of post 3D – until my mind finally settles down and accepts this superior version.

While it drags for just a little bit about 3/4 of the way through, the movie comes back for a big finish and has no illusions about what sort of film it is: A hard-R, violent, raunchy, explicit roller coaster ride – and at that it pretty much succeeds. If you’re easily offended by language, sex and nudity in films, this one is NOT for you. But if you can appreciate a schlocky action-packed B-movie then this might be up your alley. But you’ve been warned, don’t come back here telling me how offended you were by this movie.8)

Here’s a trailer for Drive Angry 3D:

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Our Rating:


3 out of 5
(Good)