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Drive Angry (3D)


Stars: Nicolas Cage, William Fichtner, Amber Heard, Billy Burke, David Morse, Charlotte Ross, Simona Williams, Katy Mixon, Christa Campbell, Todd Farmer, Tom Akins

Director: Patrick Lussier

Critics take Cage seriously in such ‘art’ movies as Bad Lieutenant, but tend to sneer at the bread-and-butter movies like National Treasure and Season of the Witch he does to make a living.

This rousing, raucous and unexpectedly entertaining exploitation action shocker (eat your heart out, Quentin Tarantino!) belongs firmly in the latter category and, to give him his due, Cage knows it and gives the loony story his all – and then some – and, adding to the fun, sports a splendid new hairpiece that’s almost as enjoyable as the straggly Prince Valiant-style locks he wore for Season of the Witch.

Co-writer (with Todd Farmer) and director Patrick Lussier make no pretence to art. Instead, Lussier relentlessly drives the show along at high speed, never missing a chance to stage adrenaline-surging car chases and accompanying eye-boggling stunts and using 3D to excellent effect. (You’re unlikely to forget the sight of the lower jawbone of an exploding villain hurtling out of the screen and onto your lap). That said, while the action is plentiful and excitingly staged, the narrative is strong enough to carry the show from one action-and-special effects highlight to the next.

Cage clearly has fun as the hardened sinner who breaks out of Hell seeking violent vengeance against the vicious cult who murdered his daughter and whose leader (Burke, good value) intends to sacrifice Cage’s baby granddaughter at the full moon. After a bloody shoot-out in a motel that would make WW3 seem tame, Cage – accompanied by waitress Heard (who is sexy enough to stir the loins of a 3,000-year-old Mayan mummy) who conveniently supplies a fast car – sets out to deal with Burke. But he doesn’t realise the Accountant – Fichtner, excellent playing the character with laid-back sinister impact - has been sent by Satan to bring Cage back to Hell…

Good taste is noticeably absent but so what? This is an unashamed exploitation piece centred on seriously strange characters, all the action, gunplay and fist fights the screen can accommodate and then some more, with foul language, gratuitous sex and nudity and comedy that’s so black that, if it had subtitles, chances are Lussier would be hailed as an auteur. It’s certainly violent – but that is what the 18 certificate is for. If you like action, horror and diabolically entertaining hokum, you should really enjoy Drive Angry - even if you feel a tad ashamed for your pleasure afterwards.

Alan Frank

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Lionsgate UK. Technicolor.
104 minutes. Not widescreen (3D). UK certificate: 18.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 20 Feb 2011