Drive Angry is the kind of movie 3D was made for: ridiculously violent, filled with objects that fly towards the audience, bouncing body parts (hint: they come in pairs), explosions, supernatural mumbo-jumbo, and vintage muscle cars. In short, it's an unapologetic B movie, a bit of souped-up, turbo-charged grindhouse pulp that is the rare example of a movie in which the 3D is both overkill and an enhancement.
It's a B movie with an A-list actor. That would be -- who else? -- Nicolas Cage, the best actor to routinely and unironically slum it in cheesy genre movies. Cage is the poetically named John Milton. The name is a hint as to his recent place of residence, a little joke inserted for the blank verse fans in the audience. Anyone who follows Cage's career closely will note the frequency with which he appears in movies with otherworldly themes. This one is no exception. There is, however, tremendous variety to his follicular prosthetics -- in Drive Angry, he sports a ragged thatch of straw-colored locks. Milton gets the movie off to a roaring, angry-driving start by gunning down some nameless bad guys, but not before they direct him to Louisiana where an infant girl is in peril.
The title of Drive Angry is a bit misleading, for it suggests a far simpler and more straightforward plot than this movie actually delivers. Indeed, things get complicated fast for Milton. He meets a feisty waitress named Piper (Amber Heard) who can talk trash and throw a mean punch. She's also got a sweet ride: a 1969 Dodge Charger. Despite serious and compelling reasons not to, Piper rides along with Milton on his quest to rescue the baby -- his granddaughter -- from a satanic cult led by Jonah King (Billy Burke). King's a slippery, sleazy, messianic devil, and has plans to sacrifice the baby on the full moon in order to create Hell on earth or some such nonsense. It doesn't really matter. This is not the kind of movie where anyone can seriously believe that the baby is in any real danger. As props go, the movie pays less attention to the infant than to the curves of all-American automotive steel; the baby is the reason Milton drives from point A to point B, but the growling, purring cars are more importantly how he does it.
King's got lots of followers drinking the satanic kool-aid (and from the looks of them, smoking the satanic meth too), and his henchmen are chasing Milton, while Milton is chasing King. Consequently, there are a lot of car chases and explosions, and lots of killing. There's also some sex, and some sex during a shootout. Milton is an able multitasker, although he stays pretty focused on dispensing vengeance and death. Piper, I am happy to report, is not in the movie to be a romantic and/or sexual object. She's there for the girl-on-girl fighting. While Milton and the Lucifer-lovin' rednecks are making with the epic battles, an elegant, occasionally sadistic fellow who calls himself The Accountant (William Fichtner) is also looking for Milton. The Accountant is unflappable, and seemingly invulnerable to everything except a super-duper antique gun --the bullets have a latin inscription -- that Milton totes. (I love movies that give you a latin lesson along with a show.)
Drive Angry, directed by Patrick Lussier (who cowrote it with Todd Farmer), is trashy, campy overkill, and a lot more fun than it really ought to be. The plentiful action sequences are delivered with wit and ingenuity, and the movie has low aspirations, which it easily achieves, and then some. Fichtner, as the enigmatic Accountant, gets the funniest lines in the movie, and he makes the most of them with a tranquil, poker-faced performance. As for Cage, give the guy credit, he never phones it in. He can bring the crazy to whatever level of craziness is required. As the dead serious, unholy avenger Milton, he offers up a deadpan performance with nary an ironic wink, even when reciting hokum like "Hell already is walking the earth." Cage is an apparent aesthetic egalitarian who seems to take every role equally seriously. He doesn't always elevate trash to treasure, but he's usually worth watching.