It's been five years since Marvel's Ghost Rider first appeared on our screens, an uninspired and decisively bland affair with Nicolas Cage giving one of his worst performances of the last decade (and that's saying something). Now fast forward five years and we have another Ghost Rider movie, this time subtitled Spirit of Vengeance, with different directors, writers and supporting cast – basically Cage is the only constant in the transition.
The story is that Johnny Blaze – who made a deal with the devil to save his father, resulting in him being taken over by a vigilante demon – is in hiding in Europe trying to avoid anyone being hurt by his demonic alter-ego. However, one day he is called upon to help protect a boy whom the Devil has dangerous plans for.
The idea was to sort of forget the last Ghost Rider movie happened – there is a five-minute segment at the beginning, which basically explains everything that happened before moving on – and start afresh, except keep Cage in the lead role. And that leads right into the problems the film has, of which there are many.
First off, since Cage is back, it practically negates the whole “boldly going in a new direction” sort of thing. It's like rebooting a horror franchise and not having someone different play the killer (something which the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, for example, shrewdly avoided). So it's hard to truly invest in this as a brand new movie when Cage anchors it, and reminds us, of the first one.
Further issues with the film lie with the directors, Mark Nevaldine and Brian Taylor. The duo gave us the bonkers Crank movies (which I enjoyed very much for what they were) and the hugely disappointing Gamer. The trouble is that their frantic style doesn't work with this sort of big blockbuster, as we saw in the aforementioned Gamer but even more so here. They can't seem to film a car chase or any other sort of action sequence for that matter without shaking the camera around as if they've drank too many Redbulls before shouting "action!" This isn't a Bourne movie where (arguably) this style enhances the action, it just distracts and annoys.