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Drive Angry 3D
Genre Action
 
Review:

Drive Angry 3D is a Nicolas Cage movie. Born Nicholas Kim Coppola, nephew to Francis Ford Coppola, the actor decided to go by Cage instead of falling back on "the family" to earn his place in Hollywood. He's racked up quite the reputation, earning a Best Actor Oscar for his role in Leaving Las Vegas and then a nomination for Adaptation. Frankly, it was the worst best thing that could have happened to his film career.

It's rare that the Academy Awards hand out a second Oscar and once you've got that golden boy statue, it's difficult to get off that red carpet. Cage has switched from serious film performances to a more commercial edge, opting for franchise opportunities like National Treasure and Ghost Rider. There have been a handful of critically-acclaimed roles in films like Kick-Ass and Werner Herzog's Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call - New Orleans, but Cage has been doing what pleases him instead of trying to impress the Academy Awards fraternity. He's always been drawn to over-the-top characters, tending to incorporate a bit of Elvis into every film.

He's a Hollywood Rock Star, churning out lead role performances like clock-work with a couple of supporting performances and voice roles on the side. In his latest (ad)venture, Driving Angry 3D, Cage gives the performance equivalent of an air punch as Milton, a vengeful father who escapes Hell to track down the men who killed his daughter and kidnapped his granddaughter. Hell? Yep, it's one of those comic book movies with a bit of fantasy in the mix... think back to Evil Dead for the tone and atmosphere. Cage is a charismatic actor, which is why he's also popular - making it difficult to single out a favourite Nicolas Cage movie.

With a title like Drive Angry, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this movie was about Road Rage or that Cage was reprising his role in Bringing Out the Dead, in which he played a paramedic ambulance driver. Drive Angry isn't as serious as that Scorsese film, but is just as violent with a double serving of gore making it more like a loose adaptation of that video game Carmageddon. Drive Angry 3D is desperately seeking cult approval. There's a cheesy undertone to all the action as Cage rips it up with big shotguns, hot babes and muscle cars. Come on, how can you expect a character to be taken seriously when he's danced with the Devil and skipped out on dessert?

Cage is supported by the gorgeous model-turn-actress Amber Heard, who could very well be the next kick-ass Hollywood it-girl. The beautiful babe in Zombieland has also appeared in Pineapple Express, Never Back Down and the Joneses... quickly developing cult appeal for her choice of roles and her smoking hot body. She's a walking sex bomb, making Cage look good and providing a strong presence as the eye candy. She can kick butt, handle a shot gun and drive fast... making herself quite versatile in an Angelina Jolie sort of way.

Character actor, William Fichtner, also drops into the picture playing a perverted Agent Smith type character known as 'The Accountant'. He's a Grim Reaper meets Golden Retriever, tracking Milton down to take him back to Hell. Fichtner is one of those actors who's instantly recognisable as "that guy", filling the shoes of many deviant supporting characters with flair. He does an excellent job in Drive Angry, which will probably go down as one of his more memorable performances and give his name a bit more resonance. He's not quite a Hugo Weaving or Christopher Walken yet, but has become more than just a recognisable villain with this role.

Drive Angry 3D isn't putting up any pretenses, this flick's all about the action "when Hell breaks loose". They've roped things in a bit when it comes to Hell's fury, making it less like Prophecy and more in tune with Evil Dead. Writer-director, Patrick Lussier, is better known as an editor specialising in fantasy/horror, although with 3D feature films, My Bloody Valentine and Drive Angry, under his belt... we could be seeing a lot more from the director over the next few years, already tipped to take over from Rob Zombie with Halloween III and Hellraiser after Condition Dead 3D.

Lussier is all about the action, shock and horror - making him perfect for 3D. Drive Angry has shards of metal flying out of screen, explosions, car wreckage, bullets and yes, even boobs. This is the antithesis of a chick flick and he's carving out a niche for himself as the go-to guy when it comes to bringing a touch of fun back to movies with 3D. They may be cheesy, over-the-top and action-intensive - but that's just what Doc Hollywood ordered. It's like giving the reins to a kid hooked on dopamine, porn and violent video games... and maybe that's why it works - full of enthusiasm and dedicated to the cool factor.

Nicolas Cage adds dramatic credibility to the film, remember that Oscar? He's got the perfect balance of respectability and flamboyance to get away with this borderline grindhouse affair. Perhaps having a first-rate lead was the missing ingredient from My Bloody Valentine, a Twin Peaks type 3D horror about a spate of murders in a small mining town. Tongue-in-cheek is becoming popular again with other gimmicky 3D films like Piranha's remake getting wings.

Drive Angry is super entertaining, delivering video game generation content with old school grindhouse overtones and a wry smile. It's not to be taken seriously, voyages into the occult and camps things up a bit for the laughs. The visual effects are good, the 3D gets a real work out, the revenge road trip adventure story keeps pace and the performances have just the right amount of torque. If you like your action violent, your car chases over-the-top, your shoot outs out-of-this-world and your cheese sleazy, you really can't go wrong with Drive Angry 3D.

The bottom line: Comic.

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