Summit Entertainment // 2011 // 105 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // May 31st, 2011
Nic Cage gotta eat.
Satanic cults, assassins from Hell, shotgun blasts to the face, muscle car chases, rampant nudity, inter-dimensional portal jumping, and William Fichtner. Sounds like the perfect B-movie, yes?
Nicolas Cage (The Sorcerer's Apprentice) is John Milton (wink wink) a mysterious drifter who may or may not have some undead issues going on. When his daughter is murdered and granddaughter abducted by a crazy cult, he's determined to bring back the girl before she is sacrificed for a Satanic ritual. Along for the ride is Piper (Amber Heard, Zombieland), a potty-mouthed waitress who loves to punch dudes in their heads.
As the duo inch closer to their adversaries, they are pursued by mysterious agent (Fichtner, Prison Break), who may or may not be working for a certain cloven-hoofed gentleman.
Drive Angry is one of those movies that tries too hard. We can feel the filmmakers' urge to excite the grindhouse geek crowd leaking through every pore of the film, and if you look at it on paper, the excursion is stuffed silly with all the excessive content someone of that cinematic inclination would enjoy. In fact, you need only take a glance at the MPAA rating:
Rated R for strong brutal violence throughout...
That's certainly true, but (as has been the trend) much of that violence is computer-generated. Limbs explode in torrents of animated blood, as shotgun shells tear through them. In fact, virtually all of the mayhem is gunshot-inflicted, save for the occasional garden hoe to the head, which is as dumb as it sounds.
These are mainly after-the-fact shots, from the preceding visual effects. Mostly they're practical, which is appreciated. A shout-out to the prop guys for creating the poor sap that had his face impaled by a Fichtner-fired baseball bat.
...some graphic sexual content, nudity...
Yikes. These guys toe the line of the R rating, as they toss in a surprising amount of debauchery for a mainstream feature film. Also, Holy Cow Charlotte Ross of NYPD Blue fame.
...and pervasive language.
No shortage of exploitation ingredients, but the resulting soufflé isn't nearly as tasty as it should be. There is just too much stuff that feels forced and tacked-on, like the cult leader walking around with the femur of Milton's daughter, the gunfight/sex scene that was already done in Shoot'em Up, or the hyperactive explosive finale culminating in a terrible CGI death scene that rivals the moronic CGI hydrogen truck flip earlier in the picture.
Shifty effects are exposed through Summit's high-end 1.78:1 transfer, a rock-solid treatment that blasts out the detail and color. The 1080p resolution lovingly embraces the explosions, muscle cars, and Amber Heard's remarkably consistent eyeliner. Sound is punchy and aggressive, delivered via DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio. Extras: Director's commentary, deleted scenes (with optional commentary), and "Access: Drive Angry" picture-in-picture which includes interviews, featurettes, and a body count tracker.
Drive Angry is the perfect example of how something could look ZOMFG bad-ass!!! on the page, but emerge contrived and dumb in execution.
Guilty. Drive angry to the impound yard.
Review content copyright © 2011 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Summit Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 105 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes
* Cinema Verdict Review