If one were to compare Drive Angry and My Bloody Valentine 3D, they’d be hard pressed to explain how the collaborative duo of writer Todd Farmer and director Patrick Lussier have grown as artists. In fact, I’m confident that I could copy and paste my review of the former and reuse it for the latter. There’s no depth or greater meaning to the Nic Cage vehicle; it’s just intended as a wild 3D ride filled with death and destruction – and Tom Atkins! What’s really incredible about it is that in a post-Grindhouse world, someone had the balls to try and make yet another modern day, big(ger)-budget love letter to exploitation films.
Much like Valentine, Farmer’s script is written around set pieces, rather than the other way around. The story of Milton (Cage) and his escape from Hell to avenge the death of his daughter and save his granddaughter from a satanic cult leader (Billy Burke) is about as flimsy and cardboard like as you can get. Add in gratuitous violence and fantastical elements and you’ve got yourself something that seems like a B-movie; throw in some scenery chewing, courtesy of William Fichtner – and, well, everyone else in the cast – and now you’ve got a FUN flick.
And that’s really where most of the joy in the flick derives from, because it’s certainly not the more exploitative moments in the film, which are absurdly amusing despite being done better elsewhere. One of the more talked about instances of insanity puts Milton on one end of a shoot-out while having sex, an idea that was used to much greater effect in Shoot `Em Up. It works in Michael Davis’ film because you’re laughing at it and how it’s incorporated into a story that’s about as Looney Tunes as you can get. Here, it’s definitely incorporated into an off-the-wall plot, but the laughs are derived from how macho and straight-faced Cage is while he’s unloading literally and figuratively. Lussier should’ve directed him to be a little less Con Air and a lot more Bad Lieutenant.
The film – boasting a “Shot in 3D” tagline during its theatrical run – feels flat at home in 2D; however, Summit’s 1080p 1.78:1 widescreen transfer is faithful to Drive Angry‘s theatrical exhibition. Colors are vibrant and deep, with reds and blacks coming through extremely strong, and the action scenes – of which there are many – are crystal clear, with every flame and shotgun blast coming through as in-your-face as possible. The clarity of the picture does make the dodgy CGI a little more noticeable than it should be (with some haloing problems) and the key 3D scenes stick out due to layering effects that can’t be removed regardless of the presentation, but it’s still a solid transfer for a fun flick. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is explosive to say the least, making it a quality experience for a beer and pizza kind of night. Dialogue is crisp and clear, and the action scenes are as loud and speaker-shaking as possible. It’s a perfect sort of representation for a film like this, but the deafening sound puts it on the “don’t watch after midnight for fear of your neighbors calling the cops” list.
It might not reinvent the wheel or feel fresh in the slightest (the whole point of Amber Heard’s Piper was to be Milton’s surrogate daughter so he could share exposition with someone? YAWN), but I’ll be damned if Drive Angry wasn’t worth a few chuckles. It’s loud and insane enough to be another social gathering flick, which seems to be Lussier and Farmer’s calling. While that’s fun and everything, here’s hoping they can break out of the 3D horror/revenge genre the next time around.
Commentary – The track features writer Todd Farmer and director Patrick Lussier, who dish on trivia, stories on the set, their working relationship and how the film came together. Lussier had laryngitis when he recorded the track and, to be perfectly honest, it gets kind of obnoxious after 10 minutes. I know the companies who put together these special features are usually in a time-crunch, but certainly this could have been rescheduled. It’s a decent track regardless, though the PiP feature on the disc is more fun and provides a good bit of the same info.
Deleted Scenes (01:36) – Two extremely brief scenes (each running under a minute a piece) that shows Piper packing her stuff and leaving Frank and The Accountant flirting with a passerby, played by Heard’s stunt double. There’s an optional commentary track with Lussier and Farmer, which isn’t worth a listen considering all they do is basically repeat the fact that they included everything they shot in the film except for these two scenes. An obvious statement if I’ve ever heard one.
Access: Drive Angry – Those familiar with Universal’s U-Control function should have no problem navigating and using this feature, which includes PiP interviews with cast and crew (Lussier, Farmer, Heard, Fichtner, etc.), pop-up trivia and a Mayhem meter that allocates points based on the on-screen death and destruction.