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Drive Angry (Blu-ray Review)

27 May, 2011 By: John Latchem

Street 5/31/11
Box Office $10.7 million
$26.99 DVD, $30.49 Blu-ray, $34.99 3D Blu-ray
Rated ‘R’ for strong brutal violence throughout, grisly images, some graphic sexual content, nudity and pervasive language.
Stars Nicolas Cage, Amber Heard, William Fichtner, Billy Burke, David Morse, Tom Atkins, Charlotte Ross.

As a throwback to the super-charged auto actioners of the 1970s, Drive Angry is a loud, sexy, bloody, fun mess of a film.

Writer-director Patrick Lussier (My Bloody Valentine) has delivered an over-the-top, adrenaline-fueled shoot-em-up in the vein of such physics-challenged efforts as From Dusk Till Dawn and other stylish thrillers from the catalog of Robert Rodriguez.

Nicolas Cage goes into gruff badass mode for this one (see Con Air, Kick-Ass, etc.) as John Milton, a self-appointed avenging “angel” who is depicted in the opening scenes escaping from hell in a 1963 Buick Riviera. (For further examples of screenwriters naming their supernatural characters after the author of Paradise Lost, see The Devil’s Advocate.)

Milton is on the hunt for Satanists who killed his daughter and kidnapped his granddaughter. The cult leader hopes to sacrifice the baby to unleash hell on Earth, appease Satan and gain otherworldly powers and immortality, or something. That’s not really the point.

This is a film designed to unleash mayhem and blow stuff up while showing off some supercharged muscle cars and populating the screen with an abundance of hot women in various states of undress. In a signature scene that connects our fascination with sex and guns, Milton’s tryst with a local bar skank is interrupted by a gunfight, during which Milton manages to hold off his attackers without ever letting go of his woman or his bottle of whiskey.

Along the way, Milton gets help in his quest from Piper (Amber Heard), a sexy-as-hell tough-as-nails waitress with a heart of gold. Also thrown into the mix is an ultra-cool grim reaper type called The Accountant (William Fichtner), sent to bring Milton back to hell.

Once you adjust to the assault on your senses, the story gets a bit boring, as Lussier tries to compensate with a rapid-fire assortment of car chases and shootouts that bide the time until a final battle in the abandoned prison where the cult intends to sacrifice the baby.

The fact that Milton is dead already means he can’t be killed, which takes some of the luster off the tension his mission should bring, but it does open the door for some imaginative gunplay.

The video gamey special effects are a bit clunky since they were designed for 3D, which means there are all sorts of objects flying at the camera throughout. The finale even includes what could be interpreted as an homage to Jaws 3D (of all things).

The extras certainly add to the fun factor, primarily the “Access: Drive Angry” mode. This interactive viewing mode includes picture-in-picture video interviews with the cast and crew; pop-up trivia that includes extensive information about the cars used in the film, including a list of other movies that feature the same car; and a “Milton’s Mayhem” scoreboard that tallies the human carnage in the film, assigning points for various acts of violence committed by Milton (50 points for shooting off a hand, 150 points for a kill shot in the head, etc.).

Also included are two deleted scenes and a run-of-the-mill commentary with Lussier and co-writer Todd Farmer.

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