Friday, 20 April 2012

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012)

Image: Colombia Pictures

None of us were particularly impressed by Ghost Rider. While it wasn’t a disaster, we wouldn’t say that it was crying out for a sequel. But the choice to hire Crank helmers Neveldine and Taylor got our attention. If anyone could inject a bit of life into the franchise, surely it would be the men behind the lunatic Jason Statham actioners.

Eastern Europe. French monk Moreau (Idris Elba) tracks down Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) to offer him a deal: rescue a kidnapped child and Moreau’s order will give Johnny back his soul. Tempted by the opportunity to no longer, nightly, turn into a skeletal biker demon on fire, Blaze agrees. But the Devil (Ciarán Hinds) wants the boy for his own nefarious purposes.

After an impressive pre-credits sequence in which Elba and Buffy’s Anthony Head spectacularly fail to protect said child, things sadly go downhill pretty fast. It was evident with the Crank films that Neveldine and Taylor are more interested in amusing themselves than the audience, and their snarky sense of humour doesn’t help to make Ghost Rider 2 any more entertaining. They bring their trademark brand of extreme cinematography but as a result the film often looks cheap when it needs to be big. Animation works for explaining Blaze’s backstory but their decision to keep bringing it back is just misguided. Add a half-baked storyline and you’ve got a something of a mess.

Those expecting Cage at full-blast will be a bit disappointed. It’s a mostly subdued turn, though he does thankfully bring the madness for a scene or two. Elba’s stranded with a silly accent but at least he gets the best action sequence in the movie. Johnny Whitworth (Pathology) hams it up as the evil American mercenary who gets a Satanic helping hand, and Violante Placido (The American) has little to do as the film’s only female character. At least there’s a bizarre turn from Hinds (The Woman in Black) as the Prince of Darkness, gurning and growling like he knows exactly what kind of film he’s in, and Christopher Lambert pops up as a tattooed monk.

Not as funny as it thinks it is and certainly not that exciting, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is definitely not the shot in the arm Johnny Blaze needs. But we’d be lying if we said it didn’t get a reluctant smile or two out of us.

There are couple of moments which save it from total infamy but generally this is a disappointing non-starter, which is a shame given how much Cage obviously loves the character.



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