“Since the birth of time, humanity has endeavored to restrict evil men in prisons. But since Cain fled the murder of his brother, evil men have fled the walls of punishment. So it doesn’t matter if you’re a badass mother on the run because you think you’re better than everyone else and somehow entitled to do what you gotta do. No, because you see, badass mothers are never fast enough. In the end, they will be accounted for.”
People have been breaking out of Hell since the days of Dante. In recent years we’ve had two very good television shows on the subject. Brimstone suffered an early death but was a wonderful character piece with John Glover as the Devil and Peter Horton as a cop and resident of Hell he uses to track down his escapees. Reaper took a more comedic route and had Ray Wise as Satan utilizing the efforts of Jack Black clone Tyler Labine helping out damned soul Bret Harrison to bring in the escaped. Enter Nicolas Cage in the underachieving action film Drive Angry.
“I never disrobe before a gunfight.”
Milton (Cage), yet another classic Hell reference, has been in Hell for a while. Apparently, the denizens of Hell can watch their loved ones among the living. He sees Cult Leader Jonah King (Burke) kill his daughter and kidnap her infant daughter. His cult intends to sacrifice the baby to bring Hell to Earth. Cage is out for revenge and to protect the child. He has broken out of Hell to do just that. Along the way he encounters tough waitress Piper (Heard). Together they rip across the country in pursuit of the cult. All the while they are being pursued by The Accountant (Fichtner), Hell’s bookkeeper who intends to account for Cage’s soul.
The result is a lot of car crashes, explosions and gun fights. The action is very much like a live-action cartoon. The blood and violence to completely stylized as if it were trying to imitate something from Zack Snyder or Frank Miller. We’re talking super-slow motion and over-the-top stunts. All the while the actors are acting far too seriously. Cage does his best moody routine. Alone, any of these things might work out to a rather entertaining film. Together it is all just a sad mess. I’m always for films that are simply amusement park rides, and I’m a pretty reliable defender of that kind of cinema. Unfortunately, this movie looks like a patch work quilt of a truckload of “cool” ideas that can’t be properly assembled. I’m sure everyone involved had a blast. You won’t.
The film was released originally in 3D. In fact the box office release name was Drive Angry 3D. I really couldn’t comment on how much better the film might have been in that format. If the audience reaction can be counted on as any indication, the film didn’t impress in 3D either. Unfortunately, the 3D format has become somewhat of a crutch, particularly for young filmmakers. It made just $10 million and was virtually gone from 80% of the screens in just two weeks.
Drive Angry is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 30 mbps. This is a very glossy over-stylized film so the high-definition image presentation looks polished. There isn’t tremendous detail, but the image is razor-sharp with bright colors. Black levels are also pretty dang good. It’s pretty much a digital to digital transfer, so it might even look better here than it did for the handful of folks who caught it at the movies.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is just as bright as the image. Subs really come to life during the explosive action scenes. The surrounds might not be aggressive, but everything here is pretty loud. You can hear the brooding dialog even with all of the high-energy score and blaring mains.
Deleted Scenes: (1:36) There are two with a play-all function.
Access Drive Angry Viewing Mode: Here you have trivia and other features while you watch the film. Good for a necessary distraction.
This movie is never as good as it could or should have been. You have a pretty good cast and a not-so-shabby premise. But the powers that be just couldn’t find a way to put it together. Director Patrick Lussier had too many toys and not enough experience or skill to play with them. The best thing I can say for this movie was the relief I felt when it was over. “Even in Hell there is compassion.”