Directed by: Patrick Lussier
Premise: A man (Nicolas Cage) escapes from Hell to rescue his infant granddaughter from being sacrificed by a cult. Along the way he teams up with a spunky waitress (Amber Heard) and is pursued by a mysterious figure known as The Accountant (William Fichtner).
What Works: For those who can appreciate it, Drive Angry is a lot of fun. It’s goofy and irreverent and more than a little sleazy but it is quite clear that director Patrick Lussier and co-screenwriter Todd Farmer are completely aware of the film they are making. Drive Angry is a throwback to grind house and drive-in movies of the 1970s like The Brotherhood of Satan, The Devil’s Rain, and Satan’s Cheerleaders and the filmmakers borrow some of the conventions and techniques of these films and adapt them for a contemporary audience. Drive Angry has plenty of action that is well staged and performances that are fun to watch. For whatever reason, Nicolas Cage has been slumming in his film choices as of late, but Drive Angry makes use of his energy and cheekiness in ways that a lot of similar projects have tried to ignore or contain. Amber Heard gets to be a little more than just a damsel in distress as she partners with Cage’s character and she distinguishes herself beyond being requisite eye candy. But it is William Fichtner as the devilish Accountant who really stands out. Fichtner nearly steals the film and he gets a lot of the best dialogue and uses it to create a lot of the best scenes.
What Doesn’t: Drive Angry is no classic and viewers should have no illusions about what kind of film this is. Evaluated on its own terms, Drive Angry has its weaknesses. The cult and its leader (Billy Burke) are not as threatening as they ought to be and never convey a convincing menace to the heroes. Also, there are several sequences that are lifted from other movies, such as Shoot Em Up and Race with the Devil, crossing from homage and into rip off territory. Such is the nature of a film like this.
Bottom Line: Drive Angry is a lot of fun and its intended audience ought to enjoy it. It ranks with The House of the Devil, Death Proof, and The Devil’s Rejects among the better homages to the occult and exploitation pictures of the past.
Episode: #329 (March 6, 2011)