Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Drive Angry: A William Fichtner movie

Incredibly, Drive Angry is not presented in Stupidvision, which I would have thought was a legal requirement. I have a horrible feeling that it was originally presented in theaters in 3 D, because every now and then the blocking suggested that stuff was supposed to fly out of the screen and onto my face. Experience teaches me that this would have made it all worse, not better, but this is why we have DVDs, and indeed why we have bottles of white wine and a general air of lofty detachment.

All movies are metaphor, and I suppose that for Nicolas Cage, Drive Angry must have seemed like a powerful metaphor. Once upon a time, Cage was someone with promise, even an Oscar; and then somehow he got trapped in a hell of his own making where he just made one million karat turkey after another. A movie where he plays a guy who escapes from hell so that he can do good once more; it must have seemed like a beacon of hope for the good times.

Nah, not really. Drive Angry is kind of a big mess with one good performance stuck in the middle of it. And that performance belongs to William Fichtner, who has been playing cops and sherrif's deputies and implacable nemeses of one kind another since Noah kicked the animals back off the ark and settled down to mucking out the mess they'd left. In one sense, he's not exactly stretching himself playing the Devil's designated bounty hunter, out to get Nic Cage and put him back where he belongs. In another sense, as the only guy trying to put in a restrained and nuanced performance in a movie full of people determined to show that there are acting styles beyond hamming it up … It's a noble piece of work he does. That still small performance in the middle of all that scenery chewing is about the only thing worth saving in the whole gaudy mess, and really I knew that going in. That's why I only paid a fiver for the thing.

If, on the other hand, you want to see any of the things in it done properly, or at least not cheaply and nastily; well Fichtner is in a bunch of other stuff, all of it better, and he's a very steady actor; he's pretty consistent in his output. If you want to see car chases; try Ronin. Hell, if you insist on seeing car chases with Nic Cage being white trash, Gone in 60 Seconds is actually better than Drive Angry (and Gone in 60 Seconds is an authentically terrible movie with authentically terrible performances from TWO different oscar winners). If you want to see hammy lunatics summoning Satan; anything from Hammer will not only be better, but will actually look more expensive. Assuming that you have really, really specialized tastes and you want to see a movie where the "hero" shoots a whole bunch of people while having sex with someone; even for that I have a better move to recommend; watch Shoot Em Up, which manages to pull it off with more class and more excitement. The one thing which Drive Angry DOES do that nothing else I've seen in ages does is throw a whole bunch of naked women at the screen in a way which makes me think that they knew everything else was falling apart and they were hoping that the audience would be distracted by the wobbly bits. Just made it worse. Somehow.

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