‘Drive Angry’ is the first truly awful film of the year

1/5 Pitchforks Starring Nicolas Cage Release date: Feb. 25, 2011

Nicolas Cage continues his downward spiral from Oscar-winning actor to unemployable has-been with his latest movie “Drive Angry.” The movie tries to be a fun, campy, demonic version of a grindhouse film but fails in no small part due to Cage's performance.

Cage plays the vengeance-seeking John Milton, whose name is taken from the poet who wrote "Paradise Lost" and whose daughter is killed by a satanic cult. The cult then kidnaps Milton's newborn granddaughter to be used as a human sacrifice and unleash Hell on Earth. Milton escapes from Hell and begins to hunt down the cult in order to save his granddaughter. No, you didn't read that wrong. Milton escapes from hell.

Along the way Milton picks up a waitress named Piper (Amber Heard). Piper tags along with Milton for no real reason other then to look good bent over the hood of a car and load guns for him. Amber Heard does an adequate job of playing the sexy sidekick but ultimately ends up being the damsel in distress for most of the film. The pair is also being chased down by a grim reaper known as the Accountant (William Fichtner) who is trying to take Milton back to hell.

If the plot sounds awful, it's because its supposed to. Any movie that opens with its main character escaping from hell in a car with a demonic gun isn't going to have Shakespearean dialogue. The movie is suppose to be a campy and ridiculous film that doesn't take itself to seriously.

Someone really should have mentioned this to Cage because every cringe-worthy line he delivers through out the film is dead serious. Because of Cage's performance, instead being campy, the film is just hard to watch.

The most interesting idea in the film is also completely thrown out. Instead of portraying hell's inhabitants as an evil army that wants to take over the earth or something equally clichéd, the agents of hell seem to have no interest in doing this. Hell is simply a prison for evil souls and nothing more. Unfortunately, the film uses this idea for laughs instead of expanding on it in an interesting way.

The film's one bright spot is actor William Fichtner as the Accountant. Watching the Accountant cut a path of blood through the film with an ironic half smile on his face is the only fun to be had here. Fichtner is practically winking at the audience when he's on screen. Cage should have asked Fichtner for a few pointers because Fichtner pull off his roll perfectly.

It should also be mentioned that this film is shot in 3D. If for some reason you choose to see this movie, don't bother seeing the 3D version. It's only used for a few cheap affects toward the beginning of the film and by the end is almost unused.

It's a shame Nicolas Cage wasn't able to get the tone of the movie right. “Drive Angry” could have been a so-bad-it's-good, fun, bloody movie. Instead, we are left with an embarrassing mess of a film. It's amazing that the same actor that gave us “Leaving Las Vegas” also gave us possibly one of the worst films of the year.

Reach the reporter at tom.kuipers@asu.edu

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