You know, in general I’m not a big fan of revenge films and I’m not even that into car movies. But something about this film obsesses me. You kind of got to hand it to Drive Angry – opening with a car racing through the hellscape and crossing the lane change to bridges, and let you know right away this isn’t going to just be a Fast and Furious rip-off…
Back on the more familiar streets of Earth we see Nick Cage run down a truck and execute the occupants with a shot gun as he grabs the information he needs.
We transition over to a diner in the middle of nowhere where Amber Heard character of Piper is being harassed by her boss. Nicholas Cage’s Milton sits in the corner and drinks coffee flirts with her partner. Pipers had enough of the boss and quits, racing off in her dodge Charger. Milton catches up with her and bums a ride. Across the bridge a ways, William Fitchner’s character, the accountant, arrives to begin his hunt for Milton.
Back at her home, Piper drops off Milton and walks and find her boyfriend boinking someone else. It’s just an excuse to get Tom Farmer, the writer, naked (It’s a goofy cameo much like My Bloody Valentine). Farmer’s character starts to get rough with Piper and Milton comes back to intervene. He and Piper take off into the night. While they hunker down for the evening in a cheap hotel and bar, the accountant has a visit to Todd Farmer to try and pick up Milton’s trail. It’s a good excuse for some nice, bloody violence. The accountant, posing as an FBI agent, appropriates the local cops to go find Milton.
It turns out that the accountant isn’t the only one looking for Milton – cult leader Jonah King is also searching for him. That’s a good thing, because Milton is looking for King as well. King gathers together a group of men to ambush Milton in his hotel room, which leads us to what maybe cinemas first and hopefully only nookie and whisky gunfight. We’ll leave it at that. The cops arrive with the accountant, making things more complicated. Milton escapes again to hunt down King. The Accountant gives chase but Milton still manages to elude him.
Along the way, he takes the opportunity to explain the plot to Piper – His daughter fell in with Kings cult and now he has taken off with her baby. That’s why Milton is after King.
In the meantime, All that gun fire has attracted the attention of the local police, led by the redoubtable Tom Atkins. They’re out to get them and have no intention of trying to take Milton alive.
The King is not too keen on not being taken alive either. An ambush leaves Milton shot and Piper kidnapped, but not for long. A high-speed chase ensues as Piper goes fisticuffs with King inside his campervan. She leaps free, exiting the campervan and gliding through the open front window of Milton’s car. That’s enough for the car though – it breaks down, so it’s time for a pitstop with one of Miltons old allies. After a little bit more exposition, he borrows a car and they race their way into the third act. What they don’t realize is that there is a police blockade waiting for them, a trap that’s been arranged by King.
That’s about the time that the accountant shows up again in a large tanker truck which clears the police blockade on his way to try and grab Milton. Milton and Piper take advantage of it and race past him towards their final showdown with King.
One of the reasons I particularly love this movie is because this is really the perfect (though unofficial) third entry in the Ghost Rider trilogy.
Stay with me on this.
Cage is playing a post-Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze. He really is, it feels like the “Spirits of Vengance” era Blaze from the 90’s comics. No longer cursed, but still damned. We don’t need Ghost Rider or even a motor cycle, because this closes his story arc perfectly. In fact, it’s possibly the best of the Ghost Rider films. Pity it isn’t really one of them. I spoke to Todd Farmer about this and while it wasn’t intentional, he told me I’m not the first to have this observation.
I’ve never understood the disdain for this film. It’s an over the top comic book action movie and I still love it.