‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance’ Review

Published 3 years ago by , Updated November 27th, 2014 at 3:35 pm,

Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengance Starring Nic Cage Review Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Review

If you’re truly savvy about where you spend your money, you’ll call it future late-night cable movie viewing.

In Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance we catch up to Johnny Blaze (Nic Cage) many years after the events of the first film. “The Rider” has apparently grown into an all-consuming force of nature that Blaze desperately tries to hold in check; until the presence of evil inevitably sets The Rider loose again, to feed on the souls of the guilty.

The Rider is presented with a full buffet of evildoers when a group of ruthless mercenaries storm a church in pursuit of a young boy named Danny Ketch (Fergus Riordan), who The Devil (Ciarán Hinds) intends to use as his human vessel. Blaze claims that The Rider is no savior, but when warrior monk Moreau (Idris Elba) promises to lift the curse from his soul as reward for saving Danny, The Ghost Rider is given new purpose, and an opportunity to be more than just a demon in the night.

I can best sum up Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance with a quote that a fellow audience member spoke as the end credits rolled: “This one makes the first one look real good.” There were plenty of people who disliked director Mark Steven Johnson’s somewhat tame adaptation of the Marvel Knights superhero – but Johnson at least made a fully-formed and structured cinematic tale. The same cannot be said for Crank directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.

Cirian Hinds as the devil in Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Review

Ciarán Hinds as The Devil

Spirit of Vengeance plays like an extreme sports video dressed as a superhero spoof. While the directing duo indeed create some impressive shots with their daredevil shooting style, those individual shots do not translate into impressive sequences, and on the whole, a lot of the action in the film isn’t even all that impressive.  [Note: if you’ve seen the Ghost Rider 2 trailers, you’ve already seen everything this film has to offer.] When things aren’t rip-roaring at an ADD pace (which is almost never), the camera work looks about on par with what you would expect from an extreme sports video shot on handheld cameras – i.e., on the amateur side and never really “cinematic.”

With a list of screenwriters that includes Batman Begins and Dark Knight story man David S. Goyer, alongside TV writers Seth Hoffman (Prison Break, FlashForward) and Scott M. Gimple (The Walking Dead), one would expect that Spirit of Vengeance would at least offer some sweet action, thrills and a touch of compelling drama. Instead, what we get is one long chase sequence disguised as a story, punctuated by terrible dialogue and scene after scene where it feels like the actors improvised everything, rather than working from any kind of script.

To give an example: in one scene Blaze and Danny’s mother, Nadya (Violante Placido), interrogate a bad guy, and what we’re treated to is a “Crazy Nic Cage” homage, with Cage going on a manic tirade in his signature high pitched squeal, complete with cheap CGI conflation between his human and Ghost Rider faces. A joy to watch on YouTube, sure, but a waste of screen time when you’ve paid a high price for an entertaining 3D superhero flick. The treatment of the Rider is even worse, as Neveldine and Taylor leave the comic book source material behind, in favor of a Ghost Rider who is best described as being Michael Myers with a flaming head (i.e., a robotic killing machine).

ghost rider spirit vengeance featurette Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Review

The practical use of 3D in ‘Ghost Rider 2′

Speaking of 3D: there are some nice moments for the format, but most of them involve ‘in your face’ antics like The Rider spitting back a stream of bullets, wreaking fiery havoc, or yes, pissing flames. The rest of the time, the format – combined with the directors’ frenetic shooting style – is more headache than enhancement. There are some animated segments throughout the film that offer some nice Gothic artistry, but they are spliced rather awkwardly with the live action.

The film offers almost no character development to speak of, and instead relishes in creating a handful of offbeat characters. Nic Cage is almost to the point of self-parody with his oddball screen persona; Idris Elba (usually a strong performer in any role) is resigned to stumbling around playing an overly happy cat-eyed drunken warrior (who does very little ass-kicking); and Ciarán Hinds is wasted (and confusing) in his portrayal of The Devil, who sounds like the only Texan in Romania. Christopher Lambert even has a brief appearance in the film… but still manages to look equally as ridiculous as his co-stars.

Johnny Whitworth channels all of his inner dirtbag to play the head mercenary who is transformed into iconic Ghost Rider villain, Blackout. The villain has some cool powers (creating localized eclipses and rotting living things), but the amateurish direction makes those powers come off as… well, amateurish in execution. Violante Placido tries to give her tortured mother character some depth and dramatic resonance, but whatever success her efforts yield feel wholly out of place in this film, which does not seem to be taking one iota of this character, story or mythos seriously, even for a second.

Johnny Whitworth as Blackout in Ghost Rider Spirit Vengeance Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance Review

Johnny Whitworth as Blackout

On the whole, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance plays like a film made by two directors mistakenly lifted out of their small niche lane of filmmaking, who don’t care all that much about the character, the source material, story – or really anything besides satisfying their own crude humor and action junkie impulses. Neveldine and Taylor deserve a bit of credit for at least trying something different – but ultimately, the material simply does not mesh with their filmmaking style.

Call it a failed experiment, call it the next Punisher: War Zone - and if you’re truly savvy about where you spend your money, you’ll call it future late-night cable movie viewing.

Here’s the trailer for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (which just might be enough):

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Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images, and language. Now playing in 2D and 3D theaters.

Our Rating:

1.5 out of 5
(Poor, A Few Good Parts)

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  1. I still can’t believe I am one of the only few peopel who enjoyed Punisher War Zone. The dude cast as Caste was perfect adn the brutality of it all was perfect for the Punisher.

    Anywho… with so many potentially good movies coming out this year, looks like I may wait for this one used on Amazon sometime in the winter. As soon as I heard the “directors of Crank” and heard how they weren’t following the source material, I become instantly suspicious.

    Is the scene with the Miner covered in hellfire at least decent?

    • bro im with you, the quip about the punisher took it to far

      • Add me to that list. Punisher War zone was damn good, and even with its over exaggerated moment, they finally got the character right. Ray Stevenson was the perfect Punisher, better than all previous attempts at casting. The problem is just that people over think the character.

        I think the little petty shots at previous films like war zone are just kinda pointless. Maybe this film is awful, but Punisher War Zone has a bit of a cult following.

        • I’m sorry, although not a great movie Warzone was still decent and I enjoyed the hell out of it. Of course the Ghost Rider was bad not to my surprise. The minute that the dudes behind crank was involved was the minute I decided on not going to the theaters to seeing it and can wait til it hits Netflix

        • I’m sorry, but Warzone is actually the same compared to this movie. They both have a weak story filled with mindless action. As for your comment about the best Punisher, we all know that the honor goes to Thomas Jane.

          • Dolph Lundgren all the way,best Punisher, best Punisher movie.

            • You’re right he was the best Punisher,problem was,it was just a weak storyline.

        • Add me too. I thought Punisher warzone was the authentic punisher. Brutal nasty viscous. Ray Stevenson was brilliant as the ferocious wrecking ball. I simply don’t understand the hate about that movie.

    • The 1st one was amazing and btw punisher warzome to much gore they should have kept the same guy also and director. Never change the director

    • I liked Punisher War zone too, thought it was by far the best out of all the Punisher film made. I saw Ghostrider today with my son and I have nothing good to say about this waste of film at all. Horrible!!!! For starters whoever cast a bald old man as Johnny Blaze should be beat, I thought Nick Cage as Johnny/Ghostrider was as dumb of an idea as when talk was going around about him playing Superman. No one should waste money on this film, it’s that bad.

    • I am just pissed that Marvel could not get its act together to form a solid Punisher movie (3 ok movies with 3 different actors. Tom Jane version being the most serious attempt of the 3 with War Zone being a gory spoof) as well as make any solid movie that does not have its main Super Heroes (Spidey, X-Men, Avengers). I knew GR2 would be bad since Nick Cage cant seem to star in a good movie anymore (Kick Ass aside).

    • I enjoyed Punisher War Zone as well.

  2. so this one goes in the same direction as Daredevil, Elektra, Batman and Robin, and some others im forgetting…

    • no, this movie kicked some ass. the devil dude was cool, the screen filming looks good. Chris Lambert was awesome. it was a good movie. definitely going to do well. the goofiness makes it fun.

  3. I should’ve known that this one was going to sucks hen they got neveldine to direct it. It’s a shame I was really looking forward to this one. Thanks Kofi you just saved me some cash

    • stay home. the director was so good. i would definitely catch it. no one dissed it in the theatre i was in, and i think everyone was thinking same thing.. sequel. it sets up perfect. the end was good. the movie was fun. it felt like it’s own thing. not a gimick movie. the movie moves quick but the scenes were good. this movie will do well. i want to watch it again, cause it was visually good. and you can get your kicks in it. i think people want sequel.

  4. i have a question for kofi, was there a new avengers trailer attached to this movie?

  5. Wow – I wasn’t expecting this to be good or even better than the first one, but I’m a little surprised that it sucks this bad. But oh well, thanks for saving me a few bucks Kofi.

    I think David S. Goyer might come up with good stories but is much weaker at executing them in writing – and so only does really well when collaborating with stronger producers/writers.

  6. I’m still going to see it. To be honest, I still think it’s going to be alright. Just because someone points out all the bad things in something doesn’t mean the entire thing is horrible. Although it probably will be a slight disappointment, I’m just going to watch it for the amazing action. I’ve given up on Nic Cage and good acting along time ago.

  7. That stupid how you guys listen to one review, i mean have an opinion for yourself. If you’re a fan of Ghost Rider I’m sure you will at least be happy to see the character on screen

    • One review? Have you somehow missed the 60+ reviews thus far on RT that have given it an approval rating of 15%? (that’s pretty bad and a pretty solid consensus) Seems pretty telling to me. People looking to save money are wise to heed the reviews this time around.

  8. Why & How do they manage to screw up a Marvel Movie so bad now-a-days ?!

    You’d think by now they’d know what fans want to see. All these professional actors directors & production guys still churning out ‘Batman & Robin’ self indulgent dross after all these year.

    Both Ghost Rider could have , should have been brilliant.

    What a shame.

  9. the blaze character and ghost rider get some definition. they really come out cool. now he’s got a feeling. the directors did a good job putting it together like that. they’re going to have like 5 ghost rider movies hopefully.

  10. Ok they only thing I didn’t like about was the lack of continuity from the first one. Other than that I thought it was pretty good.

  11. I thought the first ghost rider was a big ball of garbage and this movie comes a long can they tarnish GR any more then they have.

  12. DARN! That Midnight Sons movie will never be made now. It’s time Snipes returned to us! BLADE 4!

    • Isn’t he due to be released from jail soon?

      • I hope so.

        • who exactly does blade have left to fight lol…thety set the bar pretty high when he beat dracula

          • Talk about your totally lame premise to base a movie off of. I thought La Magra was bad enough premise but using Dracula was a step too far.

            Of the three, Blade II made the most logical sense and had the best cohesive and believable story (well, as much as you can have when dealing with vampires ;) )

            Not sure where they would go now if they did do a Blade 4. But since Marvel does have the franchise back home, maybe they should reboot it? (but not for a while). There is always Morbius?

  13. Saw it last night.. This movie was horrible and I’m generally easy on films, Cages humor seems to be set up to laugh at him not with him which just makes you want to look at anything but the screen.. There were no cool or innovative action scenes and the rider brought absolutely no new tricks to the table.. Not one.. And even in 2D is was hard to see what was actually going on on screen.. The cgi was straight from 2001.. If you enjoy super cheesy flicks you’ll love this.. But it does not fit with the rider at all… And on a bit of a different note.. Doesn’t the boy Danny look exactly like a young natalie portman in the professional?? Anyway save your money people..

  14. I wish I could say I was surprised but I’m not.
    I’ve only recently seen Crank and it’s sequel and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Those 2 films are a perfect example of a film that’s so bad you can’t help but watch.
    And what’s left to say about Nic Cage?
    There was a time when having his name attached to a film meant a quick green light and most likely box office success. Not any more though. It seems like lately his name will immediately keep people away.
    My hopes are that some day Tarintino will write a part perfect for him and help his career like he did for Travolta. If you think about it it sounds quite plausible.

    • this movie had the same director as crank.. so I guess should be called crank 3,

      the movie absolute rubbish, waste of my £9.60 thats in 3D, my eyes went wonky in 3D as well.

    • Kevin7- movie was directed by the crank crew.

  15. Just saw Ghost Rider I must admit there was a few flaws and can tell how they saved 35 million, I enjoyed the action and Ghost Rider looked real cool too. I doubt there would be a third, maybe another 5 years or less? But we shall see how it does at the box office

  16. Was not bad for a mindless action movie.
    Some of the action scenes looked really cool.
    I would say it’s not as bad as people make it here,and really better then the first one !

    Not a waste of time !

  17. All of these comments saying that the Punisher War Zone was a decent move really leads me to question the intelligence of some people. That movie made the Spongebob Squarepants Movie look like an epic award winning film. It had no story, no depth, no good casting, and pathetically cheap/over the top special effects. I don’t really care what anybody has to say about the Thomas Jane film, it was a great movie. It had an actual plot that even had depth to it. It had great casting, great acting, and even great action. I couldn’t really care less if it was a good adaptation of The Punisher because I haven’t ever really cared for the comics. I want good films. It makes me wonder why everybody hated the Tom Jane film for changing the character, but nobody is as pissed as I am at Chirstopher Nolan for destroying the character Bane! He’s aleady been destroyed once! What do I have to do, become a movie maker and do it right myself???

    • Dude, you hit the nail on the head with the Punisher opinion. War Zone was just awful, and I think Thomas Jane did an incredible job in the first one, as well as it being a great film.

      Turning my attention to Ghost Rider, and this was one of the worst films I have EVER seen. I think I have to rank it close to Skyline for crying out loud.

      First off, the dialogue was atrocious and half the time the wrong thing was said for the occasion. You have to laugh at the “jokes” because you feel sorry for how bad they are.

      Second, the camera work just wasn’t that great. Issues with lighting and being able to see anything clearly at times. There was even glare from the sun a few times.

      Third, the action wasn’t even that great when he was ghost rider. It seemed he was having an identity crises the first time he turned into the rider. Not to mention, what the hell was all that lame teleporting around? My friend described it as “it looked like C3PO was coming after you.”

      Fourth, some parts in the movie just made you go “wtf?” How did that grenade cause him to levitate and spin in a circle? Why were there “cut scenes” when they were fighting? Just not good decisions.

      Fifth and last, but not least, the movie just flat out sucked.

      • I can’t say Ghost Rider: SOV is among the worse movies I’ve ever watched, but it’s definately the worse superhero movie to come out in a while.

        The thing about Punisher Warzone is, I’m not even sure if the movie was intended to be a joke. I compare it to “Shoot Em Up”, which was intentionally ridiculous. Heck, Roger Ebert gave it 3.5 stars because he thought it was a parody of some sort. That’s gotta say something, it was so bad to him that it was good. I understand that they got the brutality down right, but come on, Castle kicks an old woman in the face in the film’s opening scene. He shoots someone’s face off. One of the film’s main villains rips a guys liver out and eats it. Another guy gets mulched in a glass condenser, survives, and looks like Chucky from the fourth Child’s play movie. I think the fact that he survived is hilarious. It’s like that knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail who just won’t die, even though all of his limbs get cut off and he gets decapitated.

        Then there were those 3 acrobatic characters who were introduced and killed off before they had potential to do anything cool. Castle blew one of them up with a bazooka. If you haven’t questioned the intent of the director at that point, then I don’t know what else to say.

        Anyway, Ghost Rider, in my opinion wasn’t Punisher Warzone bad, but it was definately bad. A lot of the moments that were supposed to be funny were cringe inducing, and Nic Cage seemed to be trying to do a bad job.

      • Using Spongebob as a reference was supposed to emphasize the stupidity of that film.

    • Exactly! Who do those jerks think they are, having their own opinions?

      • I know right! -_-

  18. Well I’ve got to say I enjoyed it greatly. Simple, basic good fun. Sure it wasn’t ‘clever’ or witty but it was exactly what I want from a Ghost Rider movie. This didn’t seem to be trying to do anything other than have a good time.

  19. I agree the movie is pretty awful i was left looking at my watch the first one was like the dark knight compared to this.
    I dont even know what they did to the Ghost Rider he has turned into frankinstine some how.
    The performances are pretty bad too.
    Ghost Rider 2 is one of the worse superhero movies of recent years superhero movies should make you not want it to end but here your left feeling like your money has not been spent well. Ghost Rider 2 has got some good CGI but not the best the camera is just crazy you may even be left feeling a little sick. (and another think Punisher Warzone was ok)

  20. What happened to there being the second avengers trailer attached to GR?

  21. Do not listen to these mindless critics, this movie was epic. Ghost Rider 2 was far better than the 1st. I’m not a fan of the diredtor, (I am a fan of his actress wife Alison Lohman however). The characters in this Ghost Rider are much better explained than in the 1st. Everything seems to make sense. I got cold chills in the theater the action scenes 3 or 4 times throughout the movie. The action scenes are top notch & will make up for the storyline if you dnt enjoy it.

    2 characters in this movie piss me off, Nadia (Violante Placido) & her son are no where near fit actors for the film. That was the only real mistake I see. Thanks to the critics, this will probably be the last Ghost Rider. If you are debating whether you see it, just think that this may be the last Ghost Rider ever made. I’m trying my hardest to persuade ppl to watch it.

    This movie fits somewhere in my top 10 movies of all time.

    • Well if they don’t make another Ghost Rider for like five years, that could be a good thing.

      Think about it, let it sit on the shelf for a bit and then maybe they can do a crossover of Ghost Rider and Spawn called “Hell’s Spawns” and make it gritty and a hard-R film and an indie flick. Then people will have their cake and will get to watch it burn, too.

    • My thoughts exactly. Sony, you’ve had TWO chances and failed both times so give it up already and move on. Plus if you aren’t willing to invest the money to make it a better film then you don’t deserve it anyway. Let someone (Marvel) do the character justice!

  22. Went to go see it. Hated it. The direction, writing, and editing were horrid. The actors did the best they could with what they had. Which was a poor script. I really wanted to walk out of the theater, I stuck it out. The only part I liked about it involved a twinkie.

  23. to start two things 1 I liked part one mostly 2. Crank sucked can someone please tell crazy cage to STOP!!!! the screaming thing he does in all of his movies it makes him look stupid and the rider looks even stupider just stop it dude

  24. Utter waste of money, dialogue was super lame & Cage seems to have lost his acting skills. The scene where he tries to intimidate the bad guy into disclosing Carrigan’s whereabouts, instead of coming across scary and intimidating he just came across as a crazy drunk.

  25. So I went and saw it today. Acting sucked, action was awesome. Just like I thought. 3 stars.

  26. You know…in conversations with my friends after watching this movie, I found myself trying to give it the benefit of the doubt. However, after reading this cringing review and realizing how I pretty much agreed with everything Kofi said…I just can’t anymore. Had some cool stuff in it (the “Rider” touch…and that first time you see The Rider full in face was pretty menacing), but overall this movie…well, it really sucked. Nicolas Cage was, quite frankly, laughable at times. I can’t believe an actor of his quality would stoop to some of the scenes that take place in this movie. LOTTA wasted talent in this flick (see: Idris Elba and Ciaran Hinds (who, by the way, I think in another setting could play an excellent turn at satan))…

    • You know, in hindsight, it was almost as bad as “Green Lantern”…

      • Since I very much enjoyed “Green Lantern”, your comment doesn’t really give me an accurate reflection of GR2.

  27. Too many independent,limited release films I wanna check out – martha,marcy,may,marlene – coriolanus, a dangerous method and rampart. Only after seeing em will I wanna see GR2.