“Drive Angry” doesn’t take itself seriously enough to succeed

Nicolas Cage doesn’t seem to put very much effort into his starring role in “Drive Angry,” which disappoints with a shallow plot and humor that wears quickly.

Drive Angry doesnt take itself seriously enough to succeed

David Hoffman, Writer

Nicolas Cage is the kind of actor who is arguably more memorable when he fails. Sure, he deservedly won an Oscar for [“Leaving Las Vegas”] (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113627/ “”) and was nominated for another in [“Adaptation,”] (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0268126/) but he is much more entertaining when he abandons all personal restraint. It makes one wonder if he’s a professional actor or just an escaped mental patient who wandered on set. Anyone who doubts this can look at [“Best Scenes From ‘The Wicker Man’”] (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6i2WRreARo “”). So, when he is set to star in [“Drive Angry,”] (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1502404/ “”) a tribute to 1970s exploitation flicks with a plot and tone as nonsensical as its title, he seems the perfect choice to add to the hilarity.

Film doesn’t take itself seriously

Cage plays Milton, an escaped convict on a journey to avenge his murdered daughter and rescue his infant granddaughter, who has been kidnapped by a Satan-worshipping cult determined to sacrifice her under the full moon. They believe that doing so will unleash hell on earth. This isn’t “Citizen Kane.” Heck, this isn’t even “Die Hard.” This is a movie where cars explode at the slightest provocation––except for at plot-convenient points–– and Cage lugs around an over-sized revolver, probably designed for the sole purpose of looking cool when being fired in slow motion. “Drive Angry” makes no attempt to be a good film, but that is not its problem. Its problem is that it never tries to be a particularly bad movie.

Cage goes blond

From the gratuitously over-the-top gunfight it begins with, one knows not to take it seriously. Cage mercilessly blows his enemies limbs off, and does so with a long blond hair cut that was probably a punishment for losing a bet. And yet, this sort of general cheesy atmosphere is all the movie ever puts forth. It’s fun to laugh at for 10 minutes, but the joke gets old quickly. Cage could have lifted things up with his trademark insanity, but he never breaks his stoicism. Cage doesn’t seem strong or excited with the script he has to work with. He just seems bored.

Supporting actor draws most laughs

Instead, most of the laughs come from the accountant William Fichtner, a mysterious figure pursuing Milton while leaving his own trail of violence. He dresses and behaves like a business man during his rampages, and beats out Cage by looking relaxed without being dull. After his car launches off the highway into the air, flips and lands upside down on the ground below, he just casually steps out and leaves, without even having to fix his tie. But, the amusement is genuine, but few and far between. “Drive Angry” is a just a long series of bloody action scenes peppered with sexuality and the occasional joke. It is not a parody of a low quality ‘70s exploitation––its just a slightly self-aware version of it.

Ending attempts to salvage poor plot throughout

One of the only surprises the film provides comes towards the end, when it begins to actually take itself seriously. Amazingly, it becomes quite efficient at doing so, nearly recovering from the silliness of the first two thirds to create some actual depth. Ultimately, its just a case of too little, too late, and the film fails to rise anywhere above average.

This imbalance proves to be “Drive Angry’s” downfall. It succeeds neither as a parody, nor something that can be taken seriously. What’s left to be enjoyed is just massive amounts of only moderately-exciting action and gore, with virtually no lasting impression. To be fair, the movie is never really boring, but it’s hardly worth the price, especially with the extra five dollars for the 3-D glasses.

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