Theatrical Review: Drive Angry 3D

John Milton is a man on a mission.  He’s found that a heinous act of violence has been committed against a member of his family.  He’s on the warpath to find the man who perpetrated this act, Jonah King, the leader of a devil worship cult.  Nothing will stop Milton, but he needs help and he gets it in the form of a sexy and feisty waitress named Piper.  Piper’s about to be brutally beaten by her boyfriend, when Milton gives a hand to help her settle the score.  Their quest begins, but looming in the background is a mysterious figure known as The Accountant in his own pursuit of Milton.

That’s about as broad a description of Drive Angry 3D as I can get without filling in all of the details and getting spoilery.  If you’ve seen the trailer for this, then you know already that there is a heavy supernatural aspect as well, but I’d rather you find those full details out for yourself.

Drive Angry 3D is directed by Patrick Lussier, who prior to this has made movies like My Bloody Valentine and Dracula 2000, neither of which I’ve seen.  It’s written by Todd Farmer, who previously worked with Lussier on My Bloody Valentine and on his own was one of the writers behind Jason X (which I have seen and had quite a bit of fun with).  Farmer’s also in the movie playing Amber’s boyfriend.

While it’s nothing wholly original, there is some fun to be had here.  It’s heavily profane with ample helpings of blood, guts, bullets, sex and muscle cars.  This brings a nice “grindhouse” element to the movie, and as a fan of “grindhouse” movies, I certainly appreciated that.  As a comic book fan, it looks to me like there’s been heavy influence on this movie by something like Garth Ennis’ Preacher, and that’s not a bad thing, it just doesn’t have the chance to fully develop as what that series had, due to having to fit this big story into a small running time.  But I don’t think that’s a concern of Lussier’s or Farmer’s, they just want to get in there and have a wild, good time.  There’s nothing wrong with that as long as I have a good time too, and I did.

The story and characters are all cliches that wallow in their attitude and the atmosphere of the film.  They’re here to have fun and give us an entertaining ride and for the most part, they do.  Where this falls a bit for me is in some of the action scenes.  They’re competently done and they are fun, but they’re not as stylish and over-the-top as they could be (though don’t get me wrong, they are over-the-top, I just think they could’ve gone a little further).

It’s only late February and already I’ve seen my second movie with Nicolas Cage in it this year (the first one also being a fun genre piece, Season Of The Witch).  Cage is solid here, his character is supposed to be stoic and bad-ass, and he does that.  He won’t win too many accolades for this, but I still thought he had enough charisma to make me follow him.  Amber Heard plays Piper, and she’s terrific.  She’s keeping pace with Cage, and pretty ballsy on her own.  Billy Burke plays Jonah King and he brings a real seedy and despicable quality to the guy.  You want to see him get his in the end.

Backing them up in support, we’ve got David Morse as Webster, an old associate of Milton’s.  Morse’s purpose is more for presence as to the type of character he is and what he means to Milton.  This gets a few extra points on the cool side for putting the great Tom Atkins to work as the law enforcement leader who’s also on the hunt for Milton.  For genre fans, Atkins is one of those guys who just gives a movie a little something extra just for sheer presence alone.

The best part of the cast though is William Fichtner as The Accountant.  I’ve been a fan of Fichtner’s for quite a long time now.  Whenever I see him connected to any piece of entertainment, it always gets a little extra fun for me.  Out of all of the cast, Fichtner’s the one who just looks like he’s having the most fun on-screen.  He’s a powerful presence, gets the best lines and makes the most of any action scene that he’s in.

The 3D in Drive Angry 3D is really quite good and for being promoted as being “shot in 3D,” it should be.  Well, I wasn’t disappointed by it.  There’s plenty of depth and this does what I think a good 3D movie should do, play with it’s gimmick.  When I recently saw Sanctum, the best thing about that night was seeing the trailer for Drive Angry 3D in 3D and it really stood out (that same night, I saw the trailer for Thor in 3D as well, and while I really liked the trailer, for now, I’m going to opt to see that one in 2D when it opens, but I digress).

Drive Angry 3D
won’t change anyone’s world, but it does offer up some profane, diversionary fun and it’s 3D is actually quite well done.  It could use a touch more style in it’s action sequences and had it had that, I could’ve seen this one as being something a little more special.  Still, I had a good time with it, and William Fichtner stood out to me as the film’s MVP.

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

27. February 2011 by Darren Goodhart
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