When Neveldine/Taylor, the directors of the unapologetically insane Crank and its matching ludicrous sequel, were announced as the guys calling the shots on Nicolas Cage and the reboot/reimagining/sequel to the forgettable 2007 comic book flick Ghost Rider it looked like a match made in OTT hell.
Dumb Violence, Dumber Sex, Nic Cage burning people's Faces...Off, sadly Spirit Of Vengeance has none of the things you'd hope for and a whole lot less.
Prefixed by a quick cartoon recap of his origins – Dying Dad, Devil Deal, Scorchy Skull, Soul Seeker – Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider is offered a way of lifting his curse if he can prevent the premature death of a 10-year old wanted by Beezlebub as a vessel for his crumbling body. Aided by the boy's mum and a French priest, Johnny Blaze tracks the boy while trying to tame the Rider within...
The story of Ghost Rider and Johnny Blaze deserves a decent outing. Compared to the whiny Peter Parker and Bruce Wayne bitching about their awesome abilities simply because they occasionally miss out on a date or two, Johnny Blaze is a superhero with genuine ground for wanting out from his 'gift'. As far as driving forces go, 'lacking a soul' certainly tops 'being tardy for Mary Jane's play' as a legitimate hero beef. So why has the ball been well and truly dropped a second time?
Rather than flee from the family friendly 12A rating that added to the original film's detriment, (a film that came courtesy of the writer of Grumpy Old Men no less), the men who bought you Jason Statham humping Amy Smart in front of a daytime audience have created a movie which positively embraces the McDonalds Happy Meal potential.
How else can you explain the decision to anchor the mid-section of the film with the dual turn off of Nicolas Cage finding religion and playing surrogate daddy to the most irritating moppet since 'lil Annie Skywalker. Just a quick reminder, this should be a film in which Nic Cage's head spends most of the running time on fire.
Aficionados of “Ridiculous Cage” will be treated to a couple of moments worthy of addition to the 'Nic Loses His Shit' showreel montage. Yet for a film in which Cage is the main draw the castle dwelling vampire clocks in surprisingly little face-time. This lack of Cage visage isn't just because he spends half the film with his head alight but because whenever the directors get a chance they're off to a new European location with a plethora of pointless henchmen and an increasingly ineffectual bad guy.
Also criminally underused is one Idris Elba. When he's present he's having a merde-load of fun as an Allo Allo accented priest with cat's eyes contacts and a penchant for 2000 year old plonk. His disappearance during Acts I and II just add to the notion that everyone involved has little to no idea why people are paying to don 3D specs for an hour and a half.
Because it sure as shit ain't for the privelage of seeing Nic playing foster father.
Another one to help pay for Nic's Castle. On paper Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance should have been critic proof, dumb enough to deflect any negativity with a cacophonous cry of “So Bad It's Good”. On screen it's a mess of content versus rating and boredom inducing plotlines. In any dimension it's best avoided.