Drive Angry is sleazy, vulgar and crass. The execution is seriously misguided, but I like the idea of it enough to carry me through. I’m like that, I’d rather see a cool idea fail than see something typical succeed technically. Offensive is better than mediocre.
Milton (Nicolas Cage) blasts some bad guys on the road in graphically 3D shots, so immediately you know it’s that kind of movie. Cage owns the screen with his Elvis-y swagger and hints of his Peggy Sue Got Married voice. When he sips coffee in between kisses he stole from a stranger, that’s action hero cool. He gets a wound to his eye, just wears sunglasses over it.
However, I would say that even in an exploitation movie, beating up a naked woman and throwing her onto the street is not okay. Even when the person delivering the beating is also a woman, that’s not okay. I’m all for outrageous, but you can just sense the tone is malicious there. And making the female lead a tough girl doesn’t make it feminist. It’s still just a male fantasy of the tough cookie.
Milton hooks up with the tough cookie Piper (Amber Heard), another waitress from that vulgar diner who’s leaving her cheating fiancé in his car. (The mistress is the recipient of above beating.) The Accountant (William Fichtner) is following Milton and you quickly get the hint that neither Milton nor the Accountant are from an earthly plane.
Between Milton and The Accountant you have spiritual characters talking shop. The film may not be mature enough to give them anything worthwhile to do, but I like the idea of having them in the movie. The script does a good job of discussing their business vaguely, and both actors bring a certain unreality to their body movements.
I was offended on behalf of Michael Davis when the film threw in a sex scene shootout, but it’ll be okay. Anyone who Googles “naked sex gunfight” will find the scene from Shoot ‘Em Up and see it’s way better. The difference is Davis clearly loves women and protects her in that scene. Drive Angry director Patrick Lussier uses her as a prop.
Drive Angry make Paul Verhoeven look like a feminist. There are lots more naked women but the film manages to make nudity ugly with the cultists jiggling in the background and the lover grinding on a fully clothed Milton. All the dialogue is tits, dick, balls in a gross, trailer park-y tone. Even the soundtrack sings about pussy in “Fuck the Pain Away.”
The pursuit is simple. Jonah King (Billy Burke) killed Milton’s daughter and wants to sacrifice his baby granddaughter to Satan. Yet the plot can’t handle it. The Accountant enlists two cops for absolutely no reason and they serve no purpose in the story. The action provides no fast-paced thrills. It’s all slow motion violence for 3D. Cage sells the gun poses but there’s no flow.
Just keep telling yourself, “Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage, Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage.” It’s like a whole movie of the bear suit scene from Wicker Man.