The real crime is behind the camera.
  • The real crime is behind the camera.
I thought I was being smart by not watching the Oscars last night. Unfortunately, I watched Drive Angry 3D instead. Drive Angry 3D, at least, earns the distinction of not being the worst automotive-themed supernatural horror movie Nicolas Cage has ever starred in (that would be Ghost Rider) and it's already not even the worst Nicolas Cage movie to be released in 2011 (Season of the Witch ought to be able to hold onto that title for the rest of the year). But that's about all you can really say for it.

For a movie that was at least shot in 3D, unlike The Green Hornet or Clash of the Titans or any of those other cynical cash-ins, you'd expect Drive Angry to have a lot more eye candy. Unfortunately, you get a severed hand flying at your face here, the occasional bit of shrapnel over there, and long swaths of the film with no depth of field at all. You won't find any depth in the plot, either: Nicolas Cage is driving (angrily!) to retrieve his baby granddaughter from an uncharismatic cult leader. Along the way, a skinny blond woman (Amber Heard, whose acting style consists of being skinny and blond) decides to accompany him. It's supposed to be good exploitation-style fun, and it is at least more entertaining than Faster, The Rock's recent entry into the cars-and-vengeance genre. But it's paychecksville all the way: Despite being onscreen for most of the movie, Nicolas Cage only bothers to check in once or twice

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The only compelling reason to see Drive Angry 3D is a fun, fascinating turn by perennial "Oh-it's-that-guy" supporting actor William Fichtner as a supernatural figure who calls himself "The Accountant." Fichtner is always a joy, but he carries the first half of Angry squarely on his shoulders. He savors his lines, taking his sweet time to deliver every syllable in an interesting way. When he starts to figure into the plot in the latter half of the movie, he loses some of his intrigue, but he's clearly the only cast or crew member in Angry who cares about what he's presenting to the world. He acts circles around Nicolas Cage in this film, and one can only dream of the juicy slab of pulp that could have been if Cage had even bothered to do his job this time around. Hopefully one day soon, Fichtner will get a role that matches his talent—something on a quality TV show, maybe as the conflicted lead in an epic crime story—but for now, I'm pretty content to watch him elevate schlock just by setting foot in front of a camera. He's an honorable, craft-centric man in a business that seems to be content with repeatedly celebrating and rewarding mediocrity. He will never win an Oscar.

UPDATE: Removed all the extra H's in "Nicolas Cage" in this post. I don't know why I can never spell his name right.