Winning The Lottery With Nicolas Cage #62

My name is Ed, and I am trapped in either heaven or hell, depending on your perspective: because I must watch every film Nicolas Cage has ever made. I must do this because it will help me to pick the winning numbers in the National Lottery, for important if dimly remembered reasons.

Drive Angry (2011)

After a fairly bleak post-Bad Lieutenant run I needed this, a film which posits that a) there is a hell, b) there are cars in hell and c) if you can drive one of the cars in hell fast enough you will escape back to the land of the living. Which of course Nicolas Cage, with one of the all-time great ‘on those nose but only if you squint and don’t think about it for more than six seconds’ character names of John Milton, does, in the first three minutes of Drive Angry. We never find out if escaping from hell causes you to have an astonishingly awful bleach blond haircut or if that’s a ‘character choice’.

Once back on Earth, Milton quickly acquires a sidekick, Piper (Amber Heard), a diner waitress who’s on the run from an abusive boyfriend. Bit of breath holding here as you pray that Heard, 22 years Cage’s junior, is not going to turn out to be the love interest: she doesn’t, and at least gets more to do than the standard ‘looking worried’ and ‘kissing’. I mean, she ends becoming a substitute daughter figure and I don’t think it even passes the Bechdel test on a technicality, but just in case you were worried, no, they don’t make out.

That’s not to say you’re not going to watch Nicolas Cage have full sex with a lady, while clutching a bottle of whiskey and and smoking a cigar. When his naked partner, Candy, a more age appropriate waitress, queries that he hasn’t removed any of his clothes, Milton replies that he never disrobes “before gunplay”. He then proceeds to have a gun battle, killing about 12 people, without ever dropping the whiskey, the cigar, or the lady.

(The lady in question is later found at the scene, hiding in a cupboard, traumatised and crying, which sort of a weirdly naturalistic turn for a film about a man driving a car out of hell.)

I know technically just describing some things that happened in a thing isn’t a review but a) this is the internet where just describing some things that happened in a thing is in fact counted as a review (and if you say them in a wry way you’re an internet pro and get a certificate) and b) it’s kind of the only way to give a flavour of how utterly ludicrous this film is.

Drive Angry is in some ways, Ghost Rider made right: both feature damned soul fighting demons with motor vehicles, but this actually manages a true comic book sensibility, with the correct level of disregard for reality. Two stoners come across the car wreck that’s temporarily trapping ‘The Accountant’, the smartly dressed demon come to return Milton to hell (an excellent turn from William Fichtner): immediately the car door comes flying off hitting one of them full on and sending him flying through the air. There might as well be a ‘POW!’ caption. By the end of the film Nicolas Cage is drinking beer out of a man’s skull, and it seems ENTIRELY REASONABLE. Not a smart film per se, just smart enough to know exactly how to deliver stupidity, i.e. quickly, and with style.

THE NUMBERS:

3 — Drive Angry was originally released in 3D: I saw it that version in the cinema, and while, for the most part, the 3D effect was as forgettable as it generally is, one thing has stuck with me. A couple of times the film uses an interesting ‘flashback’ technique — the ‘past’ shown as a layer over the ‘present’ — and my memory tells me that in the 3D version it was literally floated over the top. Maybe I’ve got that wrong, but I can’t afford to buy a 3D TV to check: or can I? Let’s pick 5 more numbers and find out!

4 — Piper’s car has a ‘I brake 4 pussy’ sticker on it, courtesy of her boyfriend.

8 — Google Maps says the final showdown is an 8 hour drive from Milton’s mate’s place. Always disappointing when Bing hasn’t shelled out for same lame product placement.

13 — Milton’s granddaughter was stolen from an apartment number 13. Don’t live in an apartment 13 you idiots. What do you think’s gonna happen? A satanic cult is NOT gonna murder you and steal your kid?

34 — The apartment Piper shares with her domestically abusive boyfriend is number 34. This subplot is unfortunately a little on the nose these days. Fuck all those old ‘actually he’s my best mate and I guarantee he never hits ladies’ wanks, eh?

51 — According to Milton’s driving license, he was born in 1951. Even discounting that he presumably didn’t age for the 10 years he was in hell, this means that Cage is actually playing slightly older than his real age (he would have been 46 at the time). Hard not to snigger when he’s described as looking ‘about 40’, though.

THE RESULT:

One number. I wonder if films that mess with satanic forces are better or worse luck than films where Nic Cage plays an angel or whatever.

NEXT TIME ON NICOLAS CAGE:

Cage reunites with Joel Schumacher for the more-or-less straight to DVD ‘classic’, Trespass.

PREVIOUSLY:

Apparently Medium makes it quite hard to find previous instalments of this so I have made a sort of index thing, here.

DISCLAIMER:

Do not spend your money on lottery tickets because you think watching Nicolas Cage films will enable you to win the lottery. The only real winner in the lottery is the lottery, bad artists, and people who actually win the lottery.

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