When a film uses the suffix of “3D” in its title, it comes with several expectations. Not only does this generally promise an excessive, gratuitous use of 3D, but it also often means that the film will be entirely ludicrous from start to finish Enter Nicolas Cage in Drive Angry 3D. This film not only deliver all of the above, but it also – as the rest of the title suggests – has Academy Award winning actor Cage doing a lot of angry driving.
The plot, which is as ridiculous as the title, follows John Milton (Cage) as an angry, undead badass who breaks free from Hell to rescue his baby granddaughter from a ritualistic killing at the hands of a Satanic cult leader who has already killed Milton’s daughter. On the way, he encounters the obligatory tough-but-sexy blonde, Piper (Amber Heard), who joins him on his shoot-em-up mission. It is the typical trashy revenge film, with Milton and Piper chasing after the Satanists in Piper’s boyfriend’s Dodge Charger, and Milton himself being closely tracked down by the ever-brilliant character actor William Fichtner as “The Accountant” – a man sent by Satan to bring Milton back to Hell.
In the same way that Snakes on a Plane revelled in its own ridiculousness, so too does Drive Angry 3D go all-out on being possibly the most absurd film of the year – 3D. The opening sequence sees Milton shooting off a man’s hand with a shotgun. The hand flies out of the screen towards you, marking the first of many stunts designed solely to remind you that this film was shot in 3D. If Samuel L. Jackson could’ve flung a stowaway snake at his audience in 2006, there’s no doubt he would’ve and, with films like The Last Airbender trying to look impressive with “clever” use of 3D technology, it’s somehow refreshing to see a film like Drive Angry 3D, fully aware of its own stupidity, turning its over-the-top use of special effects into a great experience.
The difference between Drive Angry 3D and a film like The Last Airbender is probably that this film carries itself with that delicate mix of farce, self-awareness and genuine good humour. From Milton’s epic gunfight whilst having sex and drinking Jack Daniels scene, to the moment where Piper whips out a gun referred to as “The Godslayer”, there is not a single moment of the film that takes itself seriously. Though it may seem like a foolish career choice for an Oscar-winner, in retrospect it is classic Nicolas Cage. As a regular face circulating the internet in his “Not the Bees!” meme from The Wicker Man, or the “Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit” montage on YouTube of all his craziest moments, Drive Angry 3D is lead by perhaps the only Hollywood actor who could really have pulled it off. Any actor who may have been slightly precious about the role may have hammed the jokes up, but Cage – in his divine, mental wisdom – lets the full lunacy of the film shine through. Amber Heard, too, plays her role with conviction and if you needed any more reasons to love her after her appearance on Top Gear, where she gracefully sat through Jeremy Clarkson’s slightly obsessive references to her sexuality, then this is it.
In the middle of an awards season peppered with very intense films, or films that take themselves a little too seriously, Drive Angry 3D is the antithesis to that. It is terrible, there’s no question about it, but – if you are able to suspend your disbelief for a couple of fast-paced, action-packed hours - it is possibly the most enjoyable thing at the cinema right now.