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DRIVE ANGRY
3D/2D Blu-ray Edition

Review by Michael Jacobson

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Billy Burke, David Morse
Director: Patrick Lussier
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.78:1
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Features: See Review
Length: 105 Minutes
Release Date: May 31, 2011

"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't shoot you in the face!"

"I'm driving."

Film *** (on the Grindhouse scale)

The question has been asked...why does Nicolas Cage do so many “bad” movies?

My opinion: I think he has fun doing them. His acting credentials are well-established with an Oscar win, but he has nothing to prove. Sometimes I think he simply enjoys a film where he can kick up his heels, not take himself too seriously, and relax somehow knowing that his talent and presence gives instant credibility to even the most insane offerings out there. When he stars in a movie, you do have to think twice before you dismiss it.

Drive Angry is exactly that kind of film. It's a 3D offering that kind of makes the argument that critics like my comrade Ed have been making, which is 3D is sometimes offered as the ONLY reason to see a film. And also that if a film had substance on its own, it wouldn't need a crowd-pleasing gimmick such as 3D.

This film might be case in point. As a 3D offering, it's got energy and fun, but I could tell while watching it that if I had opted for 2D, I would have run out of patience more than once. When the presentation overshadows the movie itself, does that represent a step backwards in the quality of our motion picture industry?

Well, as a new owner of a 3D home theatre, I'm accumulating evidence for a discussion on that subject another time. In the interim, Drive Angry might be the latest throwback to 70s drive-in theatre mentality. There are beautiful, ass-kicking women, lost of gunfire and bloody violence filmed in almost fetishistic ways, and many beautiful old-school muscle cars that instinctively make the men watching start to drool a little bit.

Cage plays John Milton, and if you know your classic literature, you'd be correct if you assumed the name was a reference. He is a lone man on the hunt after a Satanic cult, led by the vile Jonah King (Burke), murdered his daughter and are now planning to sacrifice his infant grandson as part of their plan to open hell and bring the devil into the world.

Chasing Milton is an enigmatic figure known as The Accountant (the always terrific Fichtner), who has his own designs on the proceedings. But assisting Milton is the beautiful Piper (Heard), a waitress with boyfriend troubles and...thank God...a very bad ass car.

Milton seems to survive injuries that would send most men to the grave, but in this case, it isn't typical action film braggadocio. There are threads at play here that are gleefully absurd and over the top, and although it might not matter if I gave away the whole shebang in my review, I'm going to opt not to. Some of you may like the occasional plot twist that bends absurdity so far that it almost comes all the way back around to normal.

Nic Cage does a solid job as the man with the plan, but really, the star of the film is the violence and the chases. If you're sitting down to this kind of movie, you know what to expect. The only question is, does the movie deliver on what it promises? I would have to say yes.

This is not great movie making by any stretch of the imagination, but I have a bit of a soft spot for storytellers that are willing to commit themselves so thoroughly to the ridiculous that it's clear they're ready to go down with the ship if need be. Drive Angry is fun, glorious trash.

Video ****

Either way you go, 2D or 3D, this is the kind of movie that will make the most of your high definition system. The 3D presentation is crisp, detailed, and clean throughout, with only a couple of noticeable instances of 'ghosting' here and there. I'm not sure filmmakers have fully grasped the technology of yet, but certain shots, like rack-focuses or having objects in the foreground out of focus just doesn't work for 3D. Still, plenty of action, color and detail from start to finish in this one.

Audio ****

The DTS HD track is explosive and dynamic, with chases, gunplay and explosions galore. Plenty of work for the subwoofer and surrounds, and dialogue is nicely rendered as well. I wish this film had more of a throwback 70s rock soundtrack, but that's just my taste.

Features ***

All of the extras are on the 2D version disc, and they include a full access portal that allows you to see scene-specific featurettes while you watch the film. There is also a commentary from filmmakers Patrick Lussier and Todd Farmer, and deleted scenes with optional commentary.

Summary:

You know who you are, and you know when you're in the mood for high adrenaline low brainpower entertainment. And when you're in that state, you might find a nice diversion in the 3D offering Drive Angry. You might not remember much about it afterward, but you'll definitely be in an escapist place for a couple of hours while you watch.

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