Who wants careful driving anyway?
As plots go, this one’s pretty straightforward. Woman is murdered after trying to leave a cult. Cult leader takes her baby for creepy sacrifice. Woman’s dead father breaks out of Hell to save the baby and kill everyone responsible for his daughter’s demise. Don’t know about you, but I might have seen this one a thousand different ways. For me here though, the glory is in the execution.
Director Patrick Lussier is primarily an editor and has been Wes Craven’s resident cutter since New Nightmare. His first big directing gig was on the Craven-produced Dracula 2000 (changed to 2001 in the UK because of the delayed release) which posited the idea that Drac was in fact Judas Iscariot, who had been made the first vampire as a punishment by God for the betrayal of Christ. Seems fair, doesn’t it? Anyway, while certainly ropey in places, one thing that film had by the bucketload was style (and if the product placement was any indication, another thing it had was a metric shitload of Richard Branson’s cash behind it. But I digress). Even if the end results have been flawed, that sense of style and wit has been present in all four of the movies he has helmed between that and this; my favourite until now being 2009’s My Bloody Valentine redux, which was one of the heralds of the 3D revival and featured some delicious carnage.
Rarely true for a Nicolas Cage movie, Nicolas Cage is not the nuttiest person in this fun throwback to almost every decade of the last half-century. That honour belongs to Billy Burke as the charismatic, murderous, leather-trousered cult leader Jonah King. Cage isn’t even the ass-kicker; step forward Amber Heard.
No damsel in distress, Heard’s Piper is a potty-mouthed delight who is just as fast with her kicks and punches as with her razor-sharp tongue. As much as I love her though, I have to crown William Fichtner as the best thing in this flick. The Accountant, Satan’s bounty hunter, is a joy to behold. He can also say “motherfucker” better than anyone, ever. I have no idea how much of the character was on the page and how much came from Fichtner himself, but every second he’s on screen is pure gold. Cage, if anything, is the calm centre of things. The man on a mission. He never lets out Crazy Nic out of the box, which you could argue makes a refreshing change. There’s no “Oh God, not THE BEES!” here.
I wasn’t kidding about the throwback part by the way; you’ve got the cheesey 50’s-style 3D (albeit with 21st century tech), the 60’s cars, the 70’s grindhouse exploitation vibe, the 80’s delight in gore… There is very little that’s new here but it’s all done with so much joy that I just don’t care. A lot of people will undoubtedly consider this a failing. “Why bother spunking all that hard-earned on something so derivative?” they’ll probably ask. And here’s my answer: Because it is damn good fun.
Special bonus points to the 3D as well. A lot of this flick takes place in daylight and there is none of the picture dimming or degradation you get with post-conversion. On a big screen, with big sound, and a big fucking crowd, this is a good way to pass a Saturday night. Sometimes, that’s exactly what you need.
Loved Drive Angry!
YES! A kindred spirit!!