• Drive Angry

    Released by: Summit Entertainment
    Released on: 5/31/2011
    Director: Patrick Lussier
    Cast: Nicholas Cage, Amber Heard, Tom Atkins, William Fichtner
    Year: 2011
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    The Movie:

    Patrick Lussier’s Drive Angry starts off with a bang. We watch a car drive out of a hokey CGI Hell and then catch up with John Milton (Nicholas Cage) as he chases down some rednecks, blows off various parts of their bodies with a shotgun, and finds out that his granddaughter is being kept by Deacon’s Tree in an abandoned prison he assumes is in Texas. A quick stop at a diner where he makes out with one waitress and hitches a ride with a second waitress, Piper (Amber Heard) and he’s off and running. Piper drops him off when she reaches her place but then walks in on her fiancé, a Stone Cold Steve Austin lookalike, fucking another women. This gives the movie a chance for a cat fight, with the other woman completely naked – and that’s pretty cool. Piper’s fiancé isn’t too pleased though and when she tries to take his car, the one she’s made the payments on, he beats the snot out of her. Thankfully Milton hasn’t wandered off too far and he saves the day and the two take off in the vintage Charger.

    When they stop off at a truck stop called The Bull By The Balls, Milton has a beer and heads back to his hotel room with a waitress named Candy while Piper recruits a Spanish dude to paint her nails, unaware that they’ve been followed by some cultists who would like nothing more than to put Milton six feet under. On top of that, a weird ‘man in black’ character calling himself The Accountant (William Fichtner) is also on their trail. The cultists show up at the truck stop and make their way into Milton’s room where, in the movie’s highlight he shoots them all dead with naked Candy riding his jock – a gun in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other. Eventually Piper wants answers, though Milton is hesitant to offer them to her. Turns out he did some time in prison while his daughter joined up with the cult that’s after them. When she tried to get out, she attacked the leader, a leather pants wearing Elvis impresario named Jonah King (Billy Burke), they killed her and took their daughter. Milton wants to avenge his daughter’s death and get his granddaughter back, and she’s going along for the ride. The cops are after everybody (lead by an underused Tom Atkins) and all Hell is quite literally about to break lose as the truth about Milton’s past comes out and The Accountant comes to collect what rightfully belongs to his unnamed boss.

    So basically we get an hour and forty minutes of violence, sex, car chases, shoot outs, tough talkin’ dialogue, devil worshippers, and drinking – plot comes second here to set pieces, with Amber Heard providing the eye candy and Cage as the consummate antihero. This isn’t a movie made to make you think, instead it’s meant to appeal to that part of you that likes sex and violence simply because sex and violence, in movie terms, are awesome. There’s no attempt to justify the film’s more gratuitous aspects, nor does there need to be. There’s no attempt at redemption on the part of Milton, he simply wants what he wants and that’s to hurt the people who kidnapped his granddaughter and to get her back in one piece. Anyone expecting any sort of life lesson from a film like Drive Angry will be sorely disappointed, as the film gleefully glorifies violence and makes gun play and shoot outs look about as cool as possible.

    If the film is ten minutes or so too long, it’s not to the point where it really hurts anything. As soon as the pace starts to relax, that’s basically a sign to the audience to be on the lookout for the next set piece, whether that’s leggy Amber Heard scrapping it out with would be rapist Billy Burke in the back of a moving RV or it’s Cage shooting up a church full of devil worshippers in some backwoods town. You could probably argue that the film is trying too hard to fit in with the current crop of drive-in movie throwbacks kicked started by Tarantino and Rodriguez, and you’d probably be right, but who cares. The movie is pretty damn entertaining and it gives Cage the chance to play a wacky balding tough guy, the sort of bizarre character he’s good at taking on. William Fichtner is perfectly odd as The Accountant, Amber Heard is better than you’d expect at handling herself in the ‘touch chick’ scenes and is a fair bit more than just another pretty face, and Tom Atkins shows up in a supporting role. If that weren’t enough, well, there’s a lot of tits and gore, some hot muscle cars, a decent soundtrack, and devil worshippers. How can you not have a good time with this one?

    NOTE: This was released theatrically as Drive Angry 3-D. The DVD contains only a 2-D presentation. It’s obvious while watching the movie that a LOT of the action scenes were shot to take advantage of the 3-D format, so expect some questionable slow motion sequences and shots that, in 2-D, wind up looking kind of dumb. It doesn’t really hurt the movie much, but yeah, if you didn’t know this was made for 3-D projection going into it you might scratch your head as to why certain scenes are shot the way they are.


    The glossy looking 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is as clean and crisp as you’d expect from a brand new movie. Detail isn’t always top notch as there’s a lot of camera trickery going on and the emphasis is obviously on 3-D in certain scenes – this doesn’t translate so well to a 2-D presentation – but overall the picture is quite strong boasting good black levels and nice bold colors.

    Audio chores are handled very well by the DVD’s English language Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track, though an optional Spanish 5.1 track is also included as are subtitles in English SDH and Spanish. There’s plenty of surround activity and the subwoofer is given a pretty thorough work out both in the car chase scenes and various shoot outs.

    Extras kick off with an audio commentary from director Patrick Lussier who is joined by his co-writer on this project, Todd Farmer. The pair discusses writing the picture together, casting, effects scenes, influences, and more. It’s a fun track, they don’t take things any seriously than they need to and it covers more or less everything that you’d expect it to. The pair also provides commentary over top of a couple of deleted scenes where we see a bit more between Piper and her ex and a bit with the Accountant trying to hitch a ride. Neither is essential and they were basically cut for pacing reasons.

    Two featurettes are here, the first of which is How To Drive Angry (18:15), a look at the stunt driving and putting the picture together which includes a bunch a cast and crew interviews. The second Milton’s Mayhem (9:28) and it’s basically a tally of the carnage that takes place during the action scenes. Neither is all that deep but the first featurette does provide a look into the filmmaking side of things. Trailers for a few unrelated titles play before the menus load (though there’s no trailer for the feature itself) and chapter stops are included. The keepcase fits inside a shiny O-ring featuring an embossed version of the same cover art.

    The Final Word:

    Drive Angry would probably have worked better as a 3-D theatrical experience than it does on standard definition DVD but even here in this limited presentation it’s a fun time at the movies. It’s not particularly smart and it’s maybe about ten minutes longer than it needed to be but it gives Cage a chance to play a big screen bad ass and he makes the most of it. Fun, goofy, Hollywood trash.

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Nolando's Avatar
      Nolando -
      I liked that the satanists rode in an RV, like that's what they did after they caught up w/ Oates and Fonda after the conclusion of Race With the Devil or something.

      Enjoyed this far more than I thought I would. Nicely gratuitous and the sex scene shootout is pleasant (the cigar also clenched in his teeth is another nice touch - tho' I prefer the similar scene from Shoot 'Em Up, if only because then the broad getting drilled is Monica Bellucci).
    1. Ian Jane's Avatar
      Ian Jane -
      Dug this one a lot more than I expected too as well. They totally marketed it as a Fast & The Furious type of film, and it's not. I kept thinking about Race With The Devil while this was playing too. It's got a similar theme I guess, but it's way more over the top and doesn't have nearly as much dirtbike footage in it. Not sure if that's a pro or a con.
    1. Nolando's Avatar
      Nolando -
      Hmm, dunno - the cultists here seem a little more believable, tho'?