When his daughter is killed by Satanists, who then kidnap his baby granddaughter to sacrifice her and bring about the end of the world, Milton (Cage) breaks out of hell and hits the road in an attempt to save her life. He's accompanied by a sexy waitress (Heard) and pursued throughout by The Accountant (Fichtner), the Devil's right-hand man...
Drive Angry ("in 3D") is the cinematic equivalent of an open goal. It has all the elements for entry to the grindhouse hall of fame: fast cars, nude women, ludicrous action, Nic Cage, Satan worshippers, lines like, “You don’t know pain until you’ve seen someone pull your daughter’s head off”, Nic Cage’s hair, car chases, a bad guy who has a walking-stick fashioned out of a human femur, William Fichtner and a plot involving its hero breaking out of hell. Let’s repeat that, shall we? He breaks out of hell.
Like we said, open goal. All that’s left is for the director to stroke it into the back of the net. Instead, he ballooned it over the bar, Brian. For Drive Angry is a mirthless mess. The car chases — not as numerous as you’d think — are pedestrian, so lacking in speed that it might be better if Cage got out and pushed. The deliberately winking attempts at excess — a Shoot ’Em Up sex scene-cum-gun battle — are overblown, while there’s a curiously drab atmosphere throughout.
In fact, Drive Angry commits a cardinal sin for a film of this type: it’s dull. Had Cage shown up in bulging-eyed Bad Lieutenant mode, it may have helped, but he’s on auto-pilot, sleepwalking through with a glazed expression that suggests this is for the IRS. Even his hair (a shabby variation on Con Air and Sorcerer’s Apprentice) disappoints.
Thank God, or the other fella, for Fichtner. Long one of Hollywood’s best supporting actors, here his off-kilter, Walkenesque lines and ironic detachment are electric. When he’s on screen, Drive Angry hits the gas and nails the tone it should have throughout. Quick, someone give this man his own vehicle.
A shambling, ponderous mess that aims to be a trashy cult classic and merely ends up in the trash - Fichtner aside. And, in the biggest disappointment of all, there's not even that much angry driving in it.