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Ghost Rider - Spirit of Vengeance (3D) (AF)

6/10

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciarán Hinds, Johnny Whitworth, Idris Elba, Fergus Riordan, Christopher Lambert, Anthony Head

Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

Cage’s hairstyle may be a tad different (a minor pleasure viewing his movies is seeing his latest hairpiece) but his role as John Blaze is a repeat of the flaming supernatural comic book motorcyclist he first played in 2007. Clearly the studio believes there is still life in the “guy who made the deal with the Devil” and adds, just in case you don’t get it, “The darkness inside me only gets stronger”. And he wastes little time in proving that there is the Devil to pay as freshly roasted corpses pile up when Blaze blazes.

The plot (not that it really matters since action, action and more action is the driving force behind the sequel) has Cage hiding out in Eastern Europe (less expensive production costs, cheaper locations and cheaper supporting actors than Hollywood) until monk Elba persuades Blaze to save a young lad from Satan. Blaze agrees in the hope (unlikely in the case of a sequel) that this will end his pact with the Devil. After that it’s simply multiple mayhem, wild road chases and assorted gunplay and general kick-assing made easy enough to watch since the storyline never gets in the way of the visual and visceral onslaught mounted by Crank directors Neveldine and Taylor.

‘Ghost Rider 3D’ doesn’t pretend to be anything other than a rollercoaster ride of thrills and special effects. Looking for a subtext (other than the obvious hope the film will spawn a profitable and frequent franchise) is about as logical as expecting Dwayne Johnson to star as Hamlet at the National Theatre with Pamela Anderson as Ophelia). The film does exactly what it says on the can and should be accepted as such. In Hollywood "ART' is mostly a four-letter word.

The 3D is effective enough but hardly outstanding. The movie would still hit its target flat, much like the performances although, to give him his due, Cage entertainingly chews the scenery like a man starved of nourishment for a century or two while Hinds and Elba do what supporting actors have to do.

(Lambert is lucky: chances are the one-time Tarzan star will pass unrecognized by the majority of moviegoers).

Alan Frank

USA 2011. UK Distributor: E1 Films. Technicolor.
95 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 17 Feb 2012