Monday, February 28, 2011

Excellent Anger Management

OK, I liked it. I hate admitting this because, if you knew me personally, you'd know that I did nothing Saturday morning but make fun of Drive Angry, the movie I planned to see that afternoon. Why do I go and see movies that look stupid and I've decided in advance I won't like? Two reasons. The first is I love going to the movies. It's my favorite way to spend my disposable income and leisure time. Even movies I don't particularly like can leave me entertained simply because I saw them in a dark theater. The other reason I see movies I don't think I'll like is that sometimes I'm wrong. It doesn't happen very often, mind you, but it does happen and it happened with Drive Angry.

Drive Angry is one of those movies that Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez are so fond of making these days. It's basically a cheap 70s exploitation film made with top actors and a huge budget. Sure, it's a stupid plot but that's the whole point. If the movie had been even a little bit smarter, it wouldn't have worked. It was only when any pretense at realism or serious storytelling was completely thrown out that the movie was able to shine.

Nicolas Cage plays John Milton but don't worry, this movie has nothing to do with medieval Christian poetry. Milton is a criminal who died but managed to escape from Hell after his daughter is killed and his granddaughter kidnapped by a Satanic cult led by the charismatic Jonah King (Billy Burke). At least people say he's charismatic. Personally, I wouldn't follow this guy to Dairy Queen, much less the gates of Hell. This is a bad thing since Milton is one of those sullen, stone faced action movie heroes who's too cool to crack a smile even when he's having sex and you need an interesting villain to balance that out. Luckily, King isn't Milton's only adversary. There's also the Accountant (William Fichtner) who is some sort of death demon or death angel or maybe he's just some sort of temp who works in Death's office. Whatever, he's been sent to bring Milton back. Now, I know that you're probably thinking that a creature like that is too powerful to be stopped and can only be held off with a mystical rifle called the God Killer. Well, they thought of that. Milton just happened to bring along a God Killer when he left Hell. He also brought sunglasses so yeah, he thinks of everything.

Rounding out the cast is Amber Heard as Piper. I think Amber Heard can actually act, not that you'd know it in this movie. Amber Heard is insanely sexy and doesn't really need to act in this role though she you gotta love her for giving it a shot. Piper and Milton meet when he helps her get free of an abusive boyfriend but it still doesn't make sense that she doesn't run screaming when she realizes she's dealing with real, honest-to-God demonic forces but, in comparison to everything else, it's one of the most believable things in the movie.

Amber Heard is sadly not naked in this movie but that's OK because every other woman is. This movie has an old fashioned notion that sex and violence are fun things to watch even though they know it's impossible to make a movie like that anymore without being denounced by tightass prudes who form groups with names like the Parents Council Against Bare Boobies. Basically, Drive Angry actually is the type of movie that a lot of movies claim to be. Makers of films like Transformers try desperately to dismiss criticism of their efforts by saying that what they did is just good, old fashioned trashy fun when actually it's stupid and lazy filmmaking. Drive Angry is good, old fashioned trashy fun that worked very hard at being that.

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