Drive Angry 3D is like a Rob Zombie remake of Vanishing Point. I guess that’s not a compliment. I was looking forward to this, too! (Proof here and here.) Ultimately, it was like hooking up with a beautiful girl you’ve been crushing on for months, only to discover that she’s a sloppy kisser. You’re still happy to be there, but it could have been so perfect, and it’s not.
The main problem with Drive Angry, in which Nic Cage commandeers some hot-ass cars and a hot-ass lady sidekick on his road to vengeance, is that it’s been sold and set up in every way as a car movie, and it badly wants to be one. But there’s hardly any car action in the movie! And when a car chase does happen, it’s fairly standard (even the one that involves a Winnebago, which has been done before, as far back as Race With The Devil). A whole lot of business happens in this movie which has nothing to do with cars. There are a lot of walking scenes. There are a lot of shootouts. There’s even a shootout that takes place in the middle of a fucking scene, and it’s scored to a great song by the Raveonettes, which I appreciated, but still, no cars.
The other problem is that Drive Angry’s promotional campaign and many trailers made no secret of the movie’s premise, the supernatural element that makes possible Cage’s quest. I’m not sure why I won’t ruin that here, since if you’ve heard of the movie you definitely know what I’m talking about, but in light of that plot twist it’s a major disconnect that two-thirds of the movie goes by before it gets revealed. Every character in the movie keeps asking Cage where he’s from, but us guys in the audience, we already know. It actually doesn’t feel good to be one step ahead of the movie we’re watching.
Okay, but what does work about the movie? Easy answer: Amber Heard. This girl is like Scarlett Johansson 2.0, all smoky voice and arched smile, but arguably even more fun to look at. She’s also got a great screen presence beyond those looks: Her character’s immediately-formed loyalty to Cage’s skeezy character makes no sense, but her triumph as an actor is to almost keep you from noticing. In my humble opinion, this girl is two or three movies away from being as big a movie star as she wants to be. And yes, I’m fairly sure that in real life Amber Heard wouldn’t give me the time of day, but that’s not what movie-crushes have ever been about, have they? I’ll conclude this review early, with a little Amber-Heard-in-Drive–Angry slideshow, and then you can decide for yourself whether you want to rent it or not.
Find me on Twitter!: @jonnyabomb