Let’s talk B-movies.
The last time we talked about b-movies and b-movie culture, you and I, was my review of Death Proof. Probably something to do with Tarantino at any rate. We’re not talking about his brand of b-movie savantism, wherein he has found a way to elevate the form to legitimate art status, ala Warhol. I’m not even talking about parodies of legitimate b-movie culture, ala Black Dynamite, however accurate and loving they may be. No, I’m talking the legit b-movie. The kind of movie Robert Rodriguez might be too talented and rich to make anymore (sorry, Rob). The kind of movie with one star, loaded guns, gassed up cars, sexed up women, tits, fire, gunfights, car chases, gunfights during car chases and explosions all around. The kind of movie where some dude has some plot to get revenge on some other dude and some blonde bombshell babe is there to help him through it. The kind of movie with more gratuitous violence and T&A than a hip hop video shot at a trucker rally with the Hell’s Angels for security. Real b-movies.
Machete was supposed to be a real b-movie, but it fell short on several counts. To spare you having to read through it again (and to spare Mel telling me to take it easy on Mr. Rodriguez) I’ll just link you to the review. In summary, for all y’all out there too lazy to click through a link, there were a grand total of five tits in Machete. I don’t know why there were only five, why every other scene was talking, why every fight scene felt needless, too short and padded at the same time. I just know that there were five tits, and I probably wasn’t supposed to see the fifth one. If you’re making a trashy movie, it shouldn’t have a number of tits I can count on one hand. I don’t care who they belong to. I just want to know you care enough to get some breasts in your feature. And in this department, and in many others, Drive Angry delivers.
Drive Angry has little to no meaningful dialogue. It has no meaning whatsoever. It has more cars than it does multi-dimensional characters. There is more exposition in the trailer than there is in the final film. Speaking of which, watch the trailer right now–it’s necessary to understanding the movie. Oh, you thought I was joking? No. No, I am not. I’ve seen the b-movie all but disappear in a world where every mediocre director has access to high quality special effects or high quality something. This movie has access to 3D cameras, and is shot in 3D, as it will remind you. The 3D in this movie is Avatar caliber, but My Bloody Valentine 3D attitude. There are more things flying at your face than I could count, several of which are body parts. Most of which are either bloody or on fire. Sound awesome yet?
The plot, excuse for explosions that it is, is that Nicolas Cage is named Milton. Milton lost his daughter to a cult a long time ago, and his daughter lost her daughter to the same cult much more recently. His grand-daughter is still a newborn. Nicolas Cage having a newborn granddaughter should raise a few questions in your mind as to plausibility, but those should be quelled by the fact that he’s fresh out of hell. As soon as hell, heaven and god are in the mix, you should really stop asking why anything. I just assume Milton’s been in there a while. Where did the body he’s using come from? Why are women attracted to him? Why does it even matter? Why do you care? He’s awesome and that’s all that matters. It doesn’t even matter that the only source you have for that is the movie itself–that’s how it should be.
Amber Heard is a no-nonsense, take no guff Texan waitress (the pink outfit ticks off more b-movie tropes than should be legal) named Piper. What’s her last name? Why should I care? All I know is that within five minutes of walking on screen, she’s quit her job, quit her engagement, assaulted her boss and fiancée and that her ass looks fantastic in those cut-off jeans. She drives a ’69 Dodge Charger, the classic muscle-car du-jour in b-movies today. She can hold her own in a fight, knows her way around guns and will kill anything that gives her lip. I will say that despite the fact that none of the tits in the movie are hers, I couldn’t care less. She has such a profound attitude and such raw energy in this performance that it sold me on the entire film. She’s dragging Nicolas Cage through all of his emotional tentpoles and making it look good.
William Fichtner is Death, referred to euphemistically as “The Accountant”, tracking Milton down to put him back into Hell. His performance, too, is a physical and verbal masterwork. Here, he inhabits a character so thoroughly unhuman as to be dumb to the proper way to curse. This is a man who makes f-bombs sound like f-flowers and none the less intimidating. His physical work in this movie is so astoundingly subtle that it comes across as an impression rather than a straight-up performance. He took this movie far too seriously, and had far more fun than should be legal in his role. His Death is likeable, personable and ready to kill just about anything–sorta like the rest of the people in this movie.
This movie has Satanists, honey-buttered muffins, crosses quite a few state lines, crooked cops, murderous cultists, backwoods panoramas and an attitude toward women best described as hopelessly juvenile. Its hero is among one of the worst performances from Nicolas Cage, but I get the feeling that he knew that a good performance wasn’t what was necessary. It’s misogynistic, incoherent, plotless, witless, scriptless, mindless, frenzied, gimmicky, explodey, fighty, stabby, killy, maimy, screamy, schlocky b-movie fun, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. FOUR STARS