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The nadir of Nicolas Cage? 

'Drive Angry' mostly bad bad, occasionally so-bad-it's-good bad.

click to enlarge DRIVE ANGRY': David Morse and Nicolas Cage star.
  • DRIVE ANGRY': David Morse and Nicolas Cage star.

Nicolas Cage has become the actor you cast not because people clamor to see Nic Cage films or because he evinces more than a vague interest in his craft, but because he brings a name people recognize and apparently needs the work.

So if you're planning, as "Drive Angry 3D" director Patrick Lussier (of the "Scream" trilogy) apparently did, to make a big-budget B-movie chockablock with exploding tanker trucks, constant gunplay, redneck Satanists, muscle car chases, constant explosions, well-lookie-here Oklahoma lawmen, human sacrifice, murder by garden implement, spontaneous resurrection, Xbox-grade CGI, gratuitous 3-D parlor tricks, naked fake ta-tas and a sing-a-long to a certain notorious Peaches track, then you sign Cage so you don't go straight to video. (Household name? Check.) Then herd an ensemble of character actors, disposable nobodies, Amber Heard's gams and one indelibly wicked William Fichtner to have yourself a pulpy gore-orgy that only 14- to 16-year-old dudes will find worth the price of admission.

"Drive Angry" is by any reasonable definition a pretty lousy movie (which is why it's far more fun to restrict ourselves to unreasonable definitions). It's not just that waitresses keep referring to Cage as handsome when he clearly looks like he's been sleeping face-down on a park bench, or that Heard's makeup survives multiple fistfights, or that the story's single compelling character is Fichtner's incarnation of a devil's minion who calls himself the Accountant. The whole schlockstain would be a total loss of your 104 minutes if not for nuggets of unadulterated high camp that burst through the miasma. At times it hits that perfect pitch of sublime awfulness. When it misses, though, it's a starter pack for a migraine, with physics so daft they could fill a season of "Mythbusters."

At the risk of infecting readers with the particular brand of hilarious stupid that radiates out of "Drive Angry," here's the plot. Basically, Cage plays this guy named Milton who breaks out of hell to avenge the murder of his daughter by a cult leader (a scenery-munching Billy Burke) who also plans to sacrifice Cage's infant granddaughter in some ritualistic something or other, and he runs into this hot blonde with a Dodge Charger and ... whatever, you get the idea. The twist here is that the Accountant shows up to fetch Milton back to hell, and he's fantastic, the Terminator crossed with a crooked CFO — cold, blunt, brutal, relentless, deadpan. The movie is afflicted with these long stretches of bang bang bang and blah blah blah, a bunch of wizzbang action sequences and attempted character development that are really just excuses to throw Viewmasteresque axes and hubcaps and bullets at the audience, yee-haw. But all you're really waiting for is the next Accountant scene, sort of like how Satan steals the show in "Paradise Lost." You can thank the antecedent of Cage's "Drive Angry" Milton for that particular tome; might as well read it till you can Netflix this flaming zeppelin of a movie. A DVD will blessedly allow you to exercise your free will via a fast-forward button.

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