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Hell and back again: Drive Angry



Drive Angry (R)

Carmike 10, Chapel Hills 15, Cinemark 16, Hollywood Interquest, Tinseltown

Oh, look: Nicolas Cage once again portraying a hellspawn on a vehicular rampage.

I'd call Drive Angry something like Ghost Rider 2: Ghost Driver, except that a sequel to Cage's previous awful example of cinematic demonic road rage is, in fact, already in production, for our sins. I might better call it Con Air Goes to Hell, because of the beautiful — and by beautiful, I mean vile and reprehensible — way it picks up the gauntlet thrown down by that violently misogynistic film and delivers it in 3D.

Cage is "badass motherfucker" John Milton, recently escaped from Hell — yes, the actual realm of infernal eternal damnation, and no, it's really not that hard to escape from Hell, apparently, and we don't need to know how he achieved the feat. He's hot on the heels of a badass Satanic priest (Billy Burke) who savagely murdered his daughter, drank her blood, and kidnapped his baby grandchild for purposes of a Satanic ritual that's supposed to enable Lucifer to walk the Earth again.

Milton acquires a sidekick in diner waitress Piper (Amber Heard), whose cutoffs are as brief as her couth. In addition to not minding if her ass hangs out of her jeans, she has access to the kind of wheels that a badass motherfucker demands when out for blood. Off they go!

Now, one might expect that a modicum of intelligence and literacy went into creating an escaped-from-Hell character named John Milton, and that those same qualities went into the assumption that the audience will get the reference and find it at least mildly amusing. If that's the case, then how could director-screenwriter Patrick Lussier and co-screenwriter Todd Farmer possibly have imagined that we wouldn't leap to obvious conclusions based on clues dropped in the film: how very long Cage has been in hell; how very long it's been since he walked the Earth; and how very unwilling he is to screw Piper, even though the camera has been trying to do so from the moment she first appeared onscreen? It's gotta be that she's the granddaughter, right?

No, she isn't. Poor Piper has fallen afoul of that most pernicious of dichotomies, the one about madonnas and whores. Piper is being saved to take care of Milton's grandchild; that's not the kind of woman a badass motherfucker fucks. But never fear. There's plenty of meaningless sex to get the audience off, and if you've become desensitized to how action movies have sexualized violence, well, check this out; I'm sure Lussier and Farmer thought they were absolutely brilliant to conceive of it.

See, it's not that Milton ain't horny, so he picks up a roadside tavern waitress (Charlotte Ross). Cut to the two of them, her totally naked, him fully clothed, at it in a motel room. Bad guys bust in. He's still inside her, she clinging to him, as they roll around avoiding gunshots, Milton pumping off round after round at the other men while still pumping into her. All the while, she's screaming orgasmically. Or maybe she's screaming in terror. Either way, it's meant to be hilarious. Ha ha, he's fucking her while he's killing people, whether she's enjoying it or not, it's awesome!

Except it's sadistic and contemptible. And I fear we're meant to celebrate it for being so.

Related Film

Drive Angry

Director: Patrick Lussier

Writer: Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier

Producer: Michael De Luca

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Katy Mixon, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Billy Burke, David Morse, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Charlotte Ross and Christa Campbell

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