Drive Angry 3D (2011)

Motor mayhem

The fact that every seat at the press screening was adorned with a can of lager and a packet of crisps should be an instant clue as to what to expect from Drive Angry 3D – as if the insane trailer hasn’t been enough of a heads up. It’s a loud, brash, Saturday night kind of a movie, one that should be accompanied by a couple of beers and a large group of mates. If that’s what you’re after, then you’ll be in for a fine time; expect anything deeper – really, how could you with a title like that? – and prepare to be disappointed.

After blazing a similar trail in 2007’s Ghost Rider, Nicolas Cage is busting out of hell once more, and this time he’s out for some serious revenge. He is Milton, a man who would never have won father of the year while alive (safe to say he’s suffering eternal damnation for a reason) but now that he’s dead he’s determined to track down those responsible for killing his daughter and kidnapping his granddaughter. Teaming up with feisty waitress Piper (Amber Heard), who has a penchant for Daisy Dukes, muscle cars and bad men, Milton hits the road, set on wreaking his vengeance before he is sent back to the underworld by the shadowy Accountant (William Fichtner).

As far as plotlines go, it’s pretty one-dimensional. But narrative depth is not something that writers Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier (who also directs) are concerned with. Instead, their screenplay is packed with punchy dialogue – some deliberately tongue-in-cheek – and ridiculously, gloriously over-indulgent set pieces. We’re talking action at ‘Did I really just see that?’ levels. Cage nonchalantly dispatching a roomful of would-be assassins while simultaneously chomping on a cigar and having sex with a blonde chick sets a memorable benchmark.

And, of course, it’s all unfolds in 3D, the aim clearly being to draw the viewer into the heart of the action. But although much has been made of the fact that Drive Angry was filmed in 3D, rather than simply being converted, it’s not the cars and weapons shooting out of the screen that make it so damn enjoyable. It’s the sheer, unadulterated craziness of it all, from the energetic performances – Cage is gruff but likeable, Heard is a heroine you can really cheer for and Fichtner steals the show as the deadpan, psychotic Accountant – to those bombastic action scenes.

There’s not a great deal more to be said about it, no subtle twists or layered characterization. Drive Angry 3D is a film that unashamedly nails its balls to the wall from the outset and, as far as guilty pleasures go, it’s one hell of a ride.

4 stars

Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner
Director Patrick Lussier
Screenplay Todd Farmer & Patrick Lussier
Certificate 18
Distributor Lions Gate
Running Time 1hr 44mins
Opens February 25