Usually the goal of Insomniac Movie Theater is to highlight an established cult classic or classic train wreck through the lens of exhaustion and all of the fun side effects that come with it (halucinations, iritability, etc.), but this week’s entry is a little different. Rather than write about an established failure or a little-known, but beloved classic, I tried to predict a movie’s impending cult status based entirely off of trailers, early buzz, and word of mouth.
The above paragraph is a feathery way of saying that I drug myself, two friends, and a $5 flask of Jack Daniels to see Nicolas Cage’s newest movie/offering to the IRS, “Drive Angry 3D.”
“Drive Angry 3D” exists in the same self-aware sphere as “Planet Terror” and “Death Proof,” in that it is totally self aware of its grindhouse trappings, though it doesn’t go the visual lengths those other films do to date itself. There are no “scene missing” cards, film grain or cigarette burns here, but considering the movie opens with voiceover from William Fichtner explaining that sometimes “badass motherfuckers are so badass that they actually escape Hell,” it’s heart is in the right place.
Bonus points to the movie for it’s explosive opening scene on earth, which has Cage stepping out of a hot rod and being greeted with a blaring guitar riff before dispensing some unholy justice with pistol-grip shotgun. Cage’s delivery is intentionally cheesy and staid, at least in this early scene, which climaxes with a slow motion explosion as Cage walks toward the camera.
Unfortunately, that’s as close as “Drive Angry 3D” comes to a high point. Self-awareness only gets you so far with a movie like this and once the initial humor wears off, what’s left is a very boring, standard revenge plot without much to distinguish from a performance or production level. The visual element is especially disappointing considering the movie was shot in 3D, not retrofitted.
It also doesn’t help that one of the movie’s more gimmicky action scenes has been done before. The scene in question involves Cage’s character having a gun fight was still having sex with bar waitress he picked up with on his journey. While it tries hard for camp and parody, it doesn’t really get the job done. Partially because Clive Owen and Monica Bellucci already covered the gunfight/sex scene territory in “Shoot Em Up,” but mostly because the choreography of the scene is boring and unmemorable and director Patrick Lussier depends too heavily on slow motion.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from “Drive Angry 3D” it’s that true camp is never achieved on purpose. Think of the classic campy movies: “Xanadu,” “Battlefield: Earth,” “Wild Things,” “Tarzan: The Ape Man,” and so on, none of them give up the ghost and acknowledge their own ridiculousness, if anything, self-seriousness attributes to the its lasting campiness.
While “Drive Angry 3D” is somewhat fun, it definitely isn’t worth the inflated 3D ticket prices and no one will be talking about it five years from now unless Cage goes on a Charlie Sheen-caliber bender and it becomes the last movie he ever made.