By Jessica Delfanti | February 18, 2012
Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Writers: Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Ciarán Hinds, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Violante Placido, Fergus Riordan
It is safe to assume that there are very few people that walk into a Nicholas Cage film expecting a good film. Through internet memes, cult classics, and a few choice comedy skits, Cage has thoroughly established himself as a parody of the young Coppola he began his career as. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance attempts to ride the wave of this parody in a massive failure of a film that’s all spark, no fire.
Ghost Rider finds Johnny Blaze (Cage) in Eastern Europe, apparently the best place for superheroes to hide from their demons — in Blaze’s case, literally. Blaze is still possessed by the Rider, a fiery spirit that causes him to transform into a flaming, motorcycle-riding skeleton with ambiguous powers whenever he is in the presence of “evil.”
When gun toting French priest Moreau (Idris Elba) enlists Blaze to help him save a child, Danny (Fergus Riordan), from the Devil/Demon Roarke (Ciarán Hinds), Blaze stands to attention in hopes of reversing his curse. He is assisted by the token female character, Danny’s mother, Nadya (Violante Placido) and chased by the Devil’s manic henchman, Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth).
Aside from this vague skeleton of a plot, the film has very little to keep it together. For the most part, it feels like three massive action scenes smashed together, punctuated with vague scenes of plot development that are confusing, contrived, and often just absurd. One wonders if there was a storyboard involved in the production, if the writers took more than a day to write it, if it was even made by a real film studio.
Granted, not all aspects of the film are so deplorable; the effects are marvelous, whether it’s the animation on the Rider’s flaming skull or the ubiquitous explosions. If the other components of the film received a fraction of the attention given to the effects, perhaps this would have passed as an entertaining popcorn action film rather than something that leaves you wondering if it’s too late to sneak into that showing of The Vow.
Cage continues his tradition of monotone one-liners, shudder-inducing displays of lechery, and half serious self-deprecation, with a few hysterical displays that will surely be added to the catalogue of video compilations online. However, he seems increasingly tired of the caricature he has constructed of himself. He lacks the conviction, the madness that has made him such an ironic pleasure to watch in the past.
At the sky-high prices of an evening 3D film, even films operating off the “so bad that it’s good” principle need to step up their game. Without Cage’s magic, without a coherent plot, and without the humor to back it up, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance doesn’t even get onto the playing field.