Director: Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor
Writers: Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman, David S. Goyer
Stars: Nicholas Cage, Idris Elba, Violante Placido, Ciaran Hinds
Release date: February 17th, 2012
Distributor: Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures
Running time: 95 minutes
Best part: Idris Elba.
Worst part: The comedic moments.
Nicholas Cage proves once again that his crazy antics and bad script choices are still in full effect. This adaptation of the infamous Ghost Rider comic book series, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, may look cool, but one incomprehensibly ridiculous story and character element after another turns what could’ve been a fun exploitation flick into a barely watchable and stupid waste of time.
With Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Things start off promisingly however when we’re immediately thrown into the thick of the action. Moreau (Idris Elba), an alcoholic French outcast but loyalist of the church, desperately tries to save a young boy, Danny (Fergus Riordan), and his mother, Nadya (Violante Placido), from the forces and leather clad henchman of the devil, in the form of Rourke (Ciaran Hinds). His need for a saviour leads him to the Ghost Rider himself, Johnny Blaze (Nicholas Cage). With Blaze clinging onto the hope of exterminating his own demonic torment, its up to this gang of misfits to expel the forces of evil from both themselves and the Earth forever.
Despite having a completely different vision and team behind it than the original, the many embarrassing flaws will give any comic book film fan a reason to audibly sigh and sense of deja vu at the same time. Agonisingly pursuing to tie this sequel into the lacklustre 2007 original while depicting a rebooted version of the Devil’s bounty hunter, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance still carries similar pathetic script and directorial failings. Most noticeably, the film stops every few minutes to throw in terrible moments of slapstick comedy and cheesy dialogue. Its painful to sit through scenes of pointless religious preaching and groan-able one liners making up the film’s entirety. Face-palming when Ghost Rider throws a villain under a moving car and says “roadkill” to himself or when pissing fire and laughing at the audience would be completely agreeable. The script goes even further into the bowels of hell with a cliche story, quickly turning from gothic action film to boring road trip, that moves increasingly slow throughout the second and third acts. The idea of the devil trying to force his body into a prepubescent boy is a stupid Exorcist style cliche to begin with. Not only do several plot twists throughout involving character consistency make no sense, but the final scene is forced to a point of throwing in one more cliché within the space of a minute.
“He’s scraping at the door. Scraping at the door! And if you don’t tell what I wanna know, I’m gonna let him out. And when he’s done with you, there won’t be anything left, you understand?” (Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider (Nicholas Cage), Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance).
Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (The Crank Movies, Gamer) have taken their schizophrenic but innovative visual style and focus on a character perfect for their film-making eye. Their interpretation of the incinerating motorcycle rider starts off promising; bringing tight editing, cinematography and gritty 2D animated origin sequences together with the thrill of the chase and a climactic score to create a somewhat entertaining first 25 minutes. But soon their crazy style conflicts with the boring script to become increasingly irritating and somewhat useless, creating the obviously uneven pacing and tone. Also descending in quality after the strong opening are the performances. Cage plays it too far over the top to become an impersonation of himself, particularly when trying to contain the Ghost Rider. While Hinds and Johnny Whitworth as Carrigan start off exuding charisma but soon turn into corny and ineffectual villainous caricatures. Putting out the fires somewhat is Elba. Still sporting the same contact lenses he had in Thor, his cool reserve and endless charm provide a notable performance, despite delivering a strange French/Caribbean accent.
Adding to Nicholas Cage’s disastrous run of critical and commercial slip-ups, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance doesn’t even pack enough Cohoes to be considered a guilty pleasure. Sadly, this fire fizzles out quick!