Fight Film Friday: Drive Angry

Posted: February 25, 2011 in fight film friday
Tags: ,

Drive Angry
USA, 2011
Genre: Action, Fantasy
104 minutes
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1502404/

Nicolas Cage stars as a hardened soul who escapes from Hell to rescue his granddaughter from the clutches of a Satanic cult.

Despite having an intriguing premise and promising to be a high-octane adventure, Drive Angry ultimately fails to deliver, with primarily Cage himself to blame. The story is no more far-fetched than any other mindless action movie, and even plays with some very interesting directions. William Fichtner and Billy Burke are phenomenal as the film’s antagonists, both clearly having a great time with the script, mediocre as it may be. The two easily turn in the best performances of the cast. Amber Heard makes a stand as a strong female lead, a no-nonsense, foul-mouthed tough girl that makes her instantly likeable. The same can’t be said for Cage, however, who seems especially wooden and monotone, even for him. In a role where the hero should have charm and charisma oozing from every pore, Cage’s Milton is stilted and awkward, like someone just pretending to be a movie star bad ass, without the genuine sense of danger inherent to the character. It’s strange that not two months ago Cage could be convincing as a medieval warrior, but now seems unable to muster the same attitude.

One of the big selling lines of the movie is that it was shot with 3D cameras, integrating the effect much more than those that incorporate 3D in post-production. However, in his enthusiasm to make such a film, it’s as if director Patrick Lussier went overboard, filling almost every minute of screen time with gimmicky shots of random debris being flung at the audience. If this was the 1980s, I imagine that such a tactic would be quite impressive, but today it feels lazy and distracting instead. The CGI and other digital effects are unsightly and cheap, like they were ushered in at the last second and pronounced as “good enough.” The photography and editing do alright, but feel pretty genre typical of a fun gun flick, nothing really spectacular or groundbreaking. The score itself works pretty well, but gets incredibly repetitive and tired by the time we reach the last 30 minutes.

The biggest disappointment of this film was the ridiculous overuse of CGI effects layered over the action. Not every gun fight needs to have the bullets race towards us in slow motion, not every explosion needs to send shrapnel in our direction. If that wasn’t bad enough, the graphics team certainly didn’t spend enough time on making sure all the digital elements fit into the movie, as they almost universally ended up looking like plastic or clay thrown around by the actors. The bigger car chases and stunt sequences were pretty impressive and shot fairly well, if a bit too saturated with action movie clichés. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of the shoot outs and close combat scenes, which were too shaky and clumsy by comparison. Drive Angry should have been just a fun movie about a man on a path from Hell, but lacks any of the charm or character necessary to make it entertaining. Instead, we’re left with decent enough ideas, but without enough of the follow-through to make it worth watching.

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