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WGUC Reviews

Drive Angry 3-D

Drive Angry 3-D
Summit Entertainment
Rated R
Now Showing at: most major theaters.
Review by: Larry Thomas

You’ve heard other people say that a movie is “so bad it’s good.” That’s an expression that’s usually attached to films like Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space.

Then there’s the classification of “guilty pleasure,” meaning that it’s not the kind of film you would normally attend, but do derive some pleasure from it… hence, the guilt.

Unfortunately, neither expression can be attached to Drive Angry 3-D. Since the studio output these days has been on the very lean side, Drive Angry 3-D intrigued me for three reasons: (1) it was actually shot in 3-D, not done after-the-fact via computer; (2) the trailer looked like it had plenty of action and stunts; and (3) the plot description seemed incredibly silly. If I told you to go see a film in which Nicholas Cage plays a dead guy who escapes from hell to track down the psycho who killed his daughter and kidnapped his granddaughter, you’d likely roll your eyes and call me unkind names. And in this case, you’d be right.

What are the problems with Drive Angry 3-D? There are too many to enumerate in one review. Cage’s performance seems almost somnambulistic, using one expression and one tone of voice throughout. The female lead, Amber Heard, is considered very pretty in certain circles, but her acting resume consists mainly of TV series and low-budget horror films. She needs some serious acting lessons. Two really talented character actors, David Morse and Pruitt Taylor Vince, look like they’d rather be anywhere but in this film. And some of the rest of the supporting players are just plain awful.

Director Patric Lussier has done mostly horror films and sequels for The Weinstein Brothers, and was apparently inspired by Grindhouse, the Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez directed two-part film of a few years back. Unfortunately, he’s no Tarantino and Rodriguez. Or for that matter, he’s not even Roger Corman. Drive Angry 3-D has the feel of having been made by a committee of 12-year-old cousins of The Dukes of Hazzard.

In addition to being badly made and acted, it’s crammed full of streams of coarse language, exploding body parts, buckets of blood, and some horrific images.

By now, you probably want to ask me “but didn’t you like Piranha 3-D last year?” Yes, I did. But it was better acted, better directed, and most of all had a wonderful sense of humor, which is an important ingredient in a film like this. Almost any attempt at humor…and they are few…in Drive Angry 3-D does not succeed, whereas Piranha 3-D is full of chuckles and laughs.

But, as in most bad movies, there’s usually one thing to appreciate, and in Drive Angry 3-D it’s William Fichtner. This lean, gaunt thespian that sort of resembles a younger Christopher Walken, is just terrific as “The Accountant.” He’s a mysterious stranger dressed in a black suit, and you just know from first glance he’s been dispatched from hell to reclaim the escapee. He’s funny and engaging in bringing life to his character, and is, in fact, the only character in the film for which you can feel anything.

The grim, heavy-handed, at time unbearable…except for William Fichtner…Drive Angry 3-D is now showing only in cinemas equipped for 3-D. There are no 2-D options available, which means you have to shell out the extra dollars for the experience. I paid $10.50 for a weekday matinee, and was the only person in the auditorium.

The extremely R-rated Drive Angry 3-D is currently showing at most plexes, but not for long. Opening weekend was dismal, and rightly so. If you want to see a film like this, save your money for one that’s “so bad it’s good.”


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