Gratuitous violence. Even more wanton nudity. A storyline centering on an escaped denizen of Hell, his vendetta against a psychotic Satanic cult leader, the Devil’s accountant looking to clean up the mess, and blond bombshell waitress with iron fists and a souped muscle car. If it sounds like a ‘70s exploitation classic, you’d be right…and wrong. Indeed, this is Drive Angry, a 2011 experiment in excess that argues for the viability and vitality of the drive-in dynamic in a post-modern (and millennial) world. Director Patrick Lussier, who cut his teeth with previous kings of the genre like Wes Craven (of the original sleazoid classic Last House on the Left) and startling remakes (the excellent My Bloody Valentine update) is dropping the whole monsters and mayhem shtick to go full blown balls to the wall with blood, breasts, and bombast. The end result reminds the viewer of a time when movies both pandered and took peculiar, often eccentric chances with its intended demographic.
In this case, we meet the long dead - but recently “revived” - John Milton (Nicolas Cage - no, wait…he’s actually very, very good here…), a former criminal who escaped from Hell’s Prison with a magical gun and a head full of hate. He is after Devil-worshipping DB Jonah King (Billy Burke), a fiendish false prophet who killed our hero’s daughter and husband and stole their infant child. The villain intends to use the baby at the next full moon, hoping the sacrifice will bring about the coming of the Antichrist. Along the way, Milton picks up a sweet young thing named Piper (Amber Heard). She has a chip on her shoulder and the keys to a revved up black Buick Riviera. As he pursues his prey across the American Southeast, he is followed by an equally malevolent figure known as The Accountant (William Fichtner), a sharp dressed man with an underworld contract to fulfill.