Hell and Back Again
I cannot help but recall the excellent advice of Groundhog Day’s Phil Connors: “Don’t drive angry.” Yes, he passes these words of wisdom on to a groundhog, who would be likely to do no driving of any kind were Bill Murray not holding his little paws on a steering wheel, but it’s well worth we humans heeding it in all instances anyway. Particularly when confronted with the prospect of Nicolas Cage once again portraying hellspawn on a vehicular rampage.
I’d like to call Drive Angry Ghost Rider 2: Ghost Driver, except that a sequel to Cage’s previous awful example of cinematic demonic road rage is, in fact, already in production, for our sins. I might better call it Con Air Goes to Hell, because of the beautiful — and by beautiful, I mean, of course, vile and reprehensible — way it picks up the gauntlet thrown down by that violently misogynist film and slaps that gauntlet right at the viewer.
That gauntlet flies right out at you in 3D, too!
Cage (Season of the Witch, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice) is “badass motherfucker” John Milton, recently escaped from Hell — yes, the actual realm of infernal eternal damnation, and no, it’s really not that hard to escape from Hell, apparently, and we don’t need to know how Milton achieved this remarkable feat. He’s hot on the heels of a badass Satanic priest (Billy Burke: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Untraceable) who savagely murdered his daughter, drank her blood, and kidnapped his baby grandchild for purposes of a Satanic ritual that’s supposed to enable Lucifer to walk the Earth again, or something (though perhaps Old Scratch just needs to ask Milton for some pointers on the whole escaping thing). Along the way, he acquires a tail in the demonic Accountant (William Fichtner’s [Date Night, The Dark Knight] deadpan performance is the only thing even mildly intriguing to be found here, though his character turns out to be entirely superfluous) and a sidekick in diner waitress Piper (Amber Heard: John Carpenter’s The Ward, Zombieland), whose cutoffs are are brief as her couth. In addition to not minding if her ass is hanging out of her jeans, she has access to the kind of wheels that a badass motherfucker like Milton demands when out for blood. Off they go!
Now, one might expect that a modicum of intelligence and literacy went into creating an escaped-from-Hell character named John Milton — look it up — and into how Milton namedrops gods such as Loki and Wotan, and that those same qualities went into the assumption that the audience will get the references and find them at least mildly amusing. So, if that’s the case, then how could badass motherfucker director-screenwriter Patrick Lussier (My Bloody Valentine 3-D, The Eye) — with coscreenwriter Todd Farmer (My Bloody Valentine 3-D, Jason X) — possibly have imagined that we wouldn’t leap to certain obvious conclusions based on the clues the film drops about how very very long Cage has been in hell and how very very long it’s been since he walked the Earth and how very very unwilling he appears to be to fuck Amber Heard, ever though the camera has been trying to fuck her from the moment she first appears onscreen? It’s gotta be that she’s the granddaughter, right? All growed up because Cage’s sense of timing is off, or he was detained escaping from hell, or whatever?
But no: she isn’t. Poor Piper has fallen afoul of that most pernicious of dichotomies: the one about madonnas and whores. Piper is being saved to take care of Milton’s grandchild, still a baby; that’s not the kind of woman a badass motherfucker fucks. (“Motherfucker” is very metaphorical, you see, and not a term meant to be taken literally.) But never fear! There’s plenty of meaningless sex to get the audience off… and if you’ve become desensitized to how action movies have sexualized violence, grab your dick and hang on tight, because you’re about to get some all-new jerkoff material.
I’m sure Lussier and Farmer thought they were absolutely motherfuckin’ badass brilliant to conceive of this, but they’re actually depraved and disgusting. See, it’s not that Milton ain’t horny, but he can’t fuck Piper. So he picks up a roadside tavern waitress (Charlotte Ross) — cut to the two of them, her totally naked, him fully clothed, fucking in a motel room. Bad guys bust in. He’s still inside her, she clinging to him, as they roll around avoiding gunshots and as Milton pumps off round after round at the other men while pumping into her… and all the while, she’s screaming orgasmically. Or maybe she’s screaming in terror. Either way, it’s meant to be hilarious: ha ha, he’s fucking her while he’s killing people. Whether she’s enjoying it or not, it’s awesome!
Whether she’s enjoying it or not is entirely beside the point, in fact: we’re meant to be enjoying it as something cool and ironic. Except it’s sadistic. And it’s meant to be that, too… which is so base it barely bears contemplating.