If there is one thing you can depend on when Nicholas Cage is in a movie is that he will be intense as hell. In Drive Angry his intensity works towards delivering a film that is fun, campy, violent and surprisingly beautiful on Blu-ray.
Nicholas Cage stars in the film as Milton, a man who did bad things, was killed and is rotting in hell. Part of his torment was watching his daughter succumb to a cult leaders will, bear his child and then be brutally murdered by him, the child being taken for a future sacrifice. With a desire to save his granddaughter Milton does the impossible, he steals a magical weapon, a seemingly magical 64 Buick Riviera (although it gets destroyed easy enough) and escapes Hell. How he does this is never shown, but it would have made a hell of an opening sequence. Instead we see Milton starting to hunt down members of the cult looking for information on his granddaughter’s location.
On his journey Milton meets (and rescues) a feisty and attractive roadhouse waitress named Piper (Amber Heard) and brings her along for the ride. She accompanies him because of some strange attachment and because she got stuck in the middle and is an accomplice to Milton’s mayhem. Also along for the ride, albeit in a different way, is The Accountant (William Fichtner) who is a minion from hell who will take Milton back no matter the cost.
Over the course of the movie Milton travels ever closer to the cult leader Jonah King (Billy Burke) killing everyone in his way without remorse or pity. The Accountant does the same as he tries to track down Milton and bring him back to hell. In the end the movie is quite predictable and a very violent and flashy showdown caps off Miltons mission of vengeance.
Drive Angry is not a terribly good film, in fact take all the pieces apart and it is a terrible film, but it is just so much fun that it should be the next cult classic of this generation. The violence is over the top, there is rampant nudity, the language is as harsh as you could imagine and the performances from the stars are campy to the point of being sublime.
Nicholas Cage gives an intense and focused performance and delivers carnage and one-liners as if he truly enjoys them. Fichtner’s Accountant is so cool, cold and badass that he could have been the main star of this film. Everyone else (Piper and Jonah King included) are so much window dressing to Cage and Fichtner’s scene chewing performances.
When I sat down to watch this film I was hoping it would be so bad it was good and I got my wish. Between the crazy action sequences, amazing muscle cars, over the top violence and campy performances Drive Angry is a fun ride; just don’t expect a deep and moving experience. Also it is worth noting that Nicholas Cage’s hair is absolutely awful in this movie, but for once it fit the character and actually enhanced his persona rather than distracting you from it (see The Sorcerer’s Apprentice).
The movie itself was fun but not terribly deep or nuanced; the video presentation is anything but that. Presented in a stunningly beautiful 1080p resolution with a 1.78:1 aspect ratio Drive Angry is one of the best looking digitally filmed releases I have ever seen. Normally with a film recorded in digital you see some artificial gloss, or a seemingly sterile appearance, not so in this transfer.
Black levels are lush and deep, textures are sharp enough to touch and the color balances are near perfect. Reds pop, blacks are deep enough to swim in and neon signs look touchable. I struggled to find any weaknesses in the transfer and the only thing I can say is that the transfer is so good, so crisp, that some of the effects look fake. Thankfully most of this movie uses physical effects, so the CG is at a minimum. Bottom line this is a fantastic looking film on Blu-ray and can act as a demo movie to show off your HD setup.
Drive Angry features a DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack that is simply excellent. The movie centers on fast cars and crazy violence which come through your speakers vibrantly and effectively. The surround channels are utilized to great effect with booms, grunts, breaking glass and even music flowing across the channels perfectly.
The dialogue is always easily identifiable and comes across clear as a bell. The subwoofer gets extensive love and shots, crashes and explosions thrum across the room in a satisfying but not overbearing way. From start to finish the Drive Angry soundtrack is a joy to listen to and truly brings you into this visceral movie in a big way.
Considering how much love was given to the audio and video transfer I was somehow expecting more from the supplements, but Drive Angry only has a few to offer. While they are not terrible, the extras are simply okay and rather forgettable once you experience them.
- Audio Commentary: Writer Todd Farmer and Writer/Director Patrick Lussier delve deep into an exploration of the film. They look at Nicholas Cage and William Fichtner’s performances, the filming, effects, cars, violence and even nudity featured in the film. The commentary was entertaining, but only for people who really like the movie.
- Deleted Scenes (1080p, 1:36): Featuring two deleted scenes, You Made Me Cheat and Morgan Girl, which are not terribly good and can be viewed with filmmaker commentary.
- Access: Drive Angry: An interactive picture in picture feature that allows you to choose which features you wish to experience with a menu in the top left corner. You can switch on text facts, video popups discussing the scenes and a mayhem calculator that tallies points based on Milton’s brutality. This was a fun supplement that made the second viewing of the film quite enjoyable.
The Final Word
Drive Angry is not a great film, but it is a fun one filled with campy performances, amazing chase sequences, fast cars, hot women and over the top violence. It also has one of the best video and audio transfers I have seen on Blu-ray in quite some time. When a film looks and sounds as good as this one does it truly enhances the overall feel of the experience. While the film is not cinematic brilliance, it is a fun ride and you should do yourself a favor by putting up your feet, getting some popcorn ready and giving Drive Angry a spin.