Directed by: Patrick Lussier
You see this poster image here?
This is what the poster should have been for this film. Just the look gives you an idea of what kind of film they were going for. A late 70's balls to the walls exploitation flick with crazy ass stunts, violence and nudity. Sadly, the poster they ended up using for the final poster was completely different, a much more refined and cleaner look. And that's just exactly how to describe this movie. It could have been a real badass flick in the vein of Machete, Death Proof and even From Dusk till Dawn. It's got all the ingredients, but none of the flavor.
And I blame it all on director Patrick Lussier. As with his previous film My Bloody Valentine, it just always feel like it's missing something. I mean, it's got a crazy ass script. It's got Nicolas Cage who can be all kinds of crazy when given the right material. It was filmed specifically in 3D, something that was both a good and bad decision ultimately. It's got crazy stunts, excessive violence and excessive nudity. All the key ingredients for a good exploitation style flick. But here, the execution was just all wrong. I couldn't help thinking as I watched it that it looked like it "could" have been so much better. I just don't think the director has any kind of identifiable style. It's just.......there. You would never be able to identify his films from one to the next if his name wasn't attached to them. This film deserved to be so much better.
The premise is, and i'm not spoiling anything for you because it's all in the trailers, is that Cage plays Milton, a guy who broke out of hell to rescue his granddaughter who has been kidnapped by a satan worshiping cult for sacrifice after killing his daughter and fiance. Along the way he hooks up with Piper, a woman who just lost her job and immediately after finds her boyfriend fucking another woman in there bed. She kicks the completely naked girls ass, spilling the fight out onto the street. She attempts to kick her boyfriends ass, but since the guy is twice her size, Milton ends up having to finish the job. So since she's got nothing left to stick around for she decides to give Milton a cross country ride as she's heading in that direction anyway. In the meantime, The Accountant, played by the awesome William Fichtner, shows up and is on the hunt for Milton. The guy escaped from Hell and it's his job to "account"(get it?) for him and bring him back. This one character was the best thing about the movie. They need to make a spinoff of this character and call it simply The Accountant, traveling the land to round up all the prisoners who escaped from Hell. Thats a movie I want to see!
One thing this film has going for it is that theres lots of violence, nudity and car chases. The car chases were actually pretty damn cool. As far as stunt work, this film had a top notch stunt team. If only it could have been filmed better!!!
Another problem is the 3D effects. I'm sure in the theater it looked cool, but at home on your widescreen flatscreen 1080p TV, it just looks bad, like direct to DVD quality effects. And you have to remember, yea the 3D effects look badass while your in the theater wearing your 3D glasses, but the movies only going to be out like for a month tops. After that its back to watching it on your TV at home in regular 2D and it will be like that for decades and decades to come. If they had gone practical with the gore and effects, then that would have made a huge difference. But instead everythings CGI and it's annoying as hell. Everthing, from the gun shot powder coming off of a gun, to the gun shot wounds, to the blood splatter flying off of someones face. Everything was lame CGI and it just feels like such a copout. It's so easy for these guys to go digital after the fact then to put any effort into actually making a squib or whatever.
And they cast this guy, Billy Burke; who I've never heard of, to play the leader of the Satanic Cult. He just has not charisma, no presence. It seemed like he was channeling Billy Bob Thornton, right down to his southern drawl and his clothes. They should have just gotten him for the part because this guy is not the least bit threatening or menacing here. He actually just kind of looks and sounds ridiculous.
The awesome David Morse has a small role here. And it's a shame because with him, Nicolas Cage and William Fichtner there could have been a really gritty no holds barred exploitation flick. Just that ensemble alone is enough to get any real film geek excited. But that's not what we got. We got a really cool concept that was executed badly.