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DRIVE ANGRY [BLU-RAY]
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Reviewed by: Ammon Gilbert

Directed by: Patrick Lussier

Starring:
Nicolas Cage
Amber Heard
William Fichtner
Billy Burke

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Milton (Nicolas Cage) is a badass motorscooter out to track down and kill the demon-worshiping cult who killed his daughter and stole her baby. On his mission for vengeance, he picks up Piper (Amber Heard) because she has a sweet ride and he could use all the help he can get. All the while The Accountant (William Fichtner) is hot on his tail, destroying anything that gets in his way to capture Milton and bring him back... to hell.
Is it good movie?
When DRIVE ANGRY 3D was released theatrically back in February, the biggest selling point the marketing folks could come up with is that the film was “shot in 3D”. Given the current state of 3D films, this probably wasn’t a bad way to go about it, but I can’t help but think how the initial reception of the film would have been if they went for more of this type of approach: “an adrenaline fueled thrill machine with tons of explosions, fast cars, naked women, and gore galore!”. That would have definitely sold me and I (more than likely) wouldn’t have waited to check it out on video.

Now that it’s on Blu-ray, though, all is forgiven. DRIVE ANGRY is almost a perfect blend of using modern-day storytelling and special effect techniques to give audience a film that truly feels out of the ‘70s and has more of that “grindhouse” vibe than anything Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez could have ever imagined. Blending the fast-paced action of a muscle-car revenge flick with the violence and all-out craziness of a genre-based supernatural tale, DRIVE ANGRY had me sucked in from the beginning and didn't let go until the very end. For dudes who like exploitive action, then DRIVE ANGRY has your name written all over it.

But action, cars, blood, guts, boobs, and balls-out badassness can’t make a movie, can it? Well, maybe not entirely, but it certainly does help. The over-the-top Nicolas Cage brings his recent array of off-the-wall performances that seem out of place elsewhere to the table here, working perfectly for the role and for the movie. Yes, he’s “bizarre Cage” here, but it f*cking works and is not only welcomed, but absolutely called for. Then there’s Amber Heard, looking hotter than the sun in the middle of August, working her daisy-dukes and bitchy attitude to the max, giving us a beautiful girl to cheer on, but to never feel sorry for. She ain’t no f*cking damsel in distress, but a force to be reckoned with. Which leaves William Fichnter, a guy who’s played the villain many times before, but never as much captures the unique intensity as he does playing The Accountant, a villain who’s cool, collected, likeable, but so f*cking hardcore you certainly wouldn’t want to cross paths anytime soon.

The supporting characters all bring their A game to the table, including that evil bastard Billy Burke as the demonic cult leader who may be the biggest badass in the movie, actually, so much so that you want to slap that dirty smirk off his face every time he’s on screen. David Morse does what David Morse does, and even co-writer Todd Farmer does his dirtbag gig far better than the dirtbag role he played in MY BLOODY VALENTINE (albeit, the same dude in certain respects).

The only real problems I had with the flick are the weak-sauce special effects. Maybe it’s the glory of High Definition Blu-ray that makes all the floppy effects feel faker than ever, but they over-use of CGI, both in bloody deaths and car explosions, was a little much. Added the fact that they played up the 3D to the absolute max, throwing objects at the screen (all CGI objects, no less) to the point where it’s distracting and a bit ridiculous. But then I remembered that this was akin to the “grindhouse” movies of the ‘70s, and that somehow makes the gimmicky use of CGI and 3D OK. Yeah, it all looks cheesy bad, but it adds to the fun of the movie, and if it looked too good, it’d probably fall into the category of a movie that tried to be “grindhouse” but fails rather than a movie that is “grindhouse”, effortlessly so.

The music in this film is also spot-on, reminisce of the scores from PLANET TERROR and even INCEPTION, but its own monster all the way through. Michael Wandmacher is a composer to look out for, and since he already has MY BLOODY VALENTINE and PIRANHA 3D under his belt, I’m sure he’ll be a household name to the genre in no time. The bumpin’ beats and the hard rock soundtrack just add to the immaculate fun that is DRIVE ANGRY—a movie that’s so self-aware of its musical choices that it features Heard singing “F*ck The Pain Away” at the top of her lungs as the song by Peaches is blaring in the foreground. If that doesn’t sum up awesomeness, I don’t know what does.

At the end of the day, DRIVE ANGRY knows exactly what it is and isn’t ashamed of it, but rather embraces the over-the-topness of it all and relishes in its own ridiculousness—but in a good way. Easily one of the most entertaining 105 minutes you’ll sit down to watch this year.

Video / Audio
Video: The picture-quality of this Blu-ray has to be one of the sharpest, clearest, and all-around best Blu-ray's I've seen in quite some time. Everything is immaculately crystal to the point where it's like Cage and Heard are literally f*ckin' shit up in your living room. 1.78:1 Widescreen / 1080p High Definition (even the special features).

Audio: To match the stellar video is the equally amazing audio track, mixed in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, the explosions are loud and the music is bumpin'. The dialogue gets a little too low here and there, but otherwise... this is one home theater experience that can't be beat!

The Extras
Access: Drive Angry: When turning on this feature, you can watch the film in its entirety and, when it's relevant to what's happening on screen, information-bubbles slide out for random trivia, interviews with the cast and crew pop up in the corner, and you can even track the film's body count as you go along. Think of if as Audio Commentary and Behind-the-Scenes featurettes all wrapped into one.

The plus side, it's well rounded and covers just about ever angle you could possible want from a special feature. The down side, you can't skip to different chapters while watching the movie in this mode (which is likely not the first time you've seen it at this point), and the fact that you have to watch all 105 minutes over again to check out the interviews, etc... kind of sucks. Overall, though, a pretty cool extra and likely a 'standard' when it comes to Blu-ray extras in the future.

Audio Commentary: Tag along with director/writer Patrick Lussier and writer Todd Farmer as they talk about all things DRIVE ANGRY in this entertaining audio track. The two are friends, they have chemistry, and it shows up here. The commentary plays a lot like the above feature, only in audio form. If you wanted to know WTF they were thinking when they made this ride, be sure to listen in... it explains a lot.

Deleted Scenes: There are two deleted scenes to check out here, both of which last less than a minute, and both of which are utterly useless. There's a reason they were cut-out of the final movie, but if you want to see Amber Heard and Todd Farmer talk about infidelities or William Fichtner hop into a sweet ride with a busty blonde, then check these out... but be warned, you'll feel empty inside afterwards.

Last Call
DRIVE ANGRY was like a cinematic love-letter to those who love revenge flicks, muscle-car flicks, supernatural flicks, no-holds-barred action flicks, and those who simply love to be entertained by things that are over-the-top. Filled with awesome one-liners, gratuitous nudity, graphic violence, cool cars, and characters that are so badass they practically bleed diesel, DRIVE ANGRY is a modern-day grindhouse flick that will quickly approach cult classic status now that it's on video. The Blu-ray looks and sounds phenomenal and while the extras weren't perfect, they were still better than average. Before you do anything else, pick up a copy of DRIVE ANGRY on Blu-ray--this testosterone-injected ride is one of the best you'll have all year.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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