Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012) Sony Pictures Releasing
1 hr. 35 mins.
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Violante Placido, Ciaran Hinds, Idris Elba, Johnny Whitworth, Fergus Riordan
Directed by: Brian Taylor, Mark Neveldine
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action/Adventure, Comic Book Fantasy
Critic’s Rating: ** stars (out of 4 stars)
Co-directors Mark Neveldine and Mark Taylor found their twisted niche overseeing the hyperactive octane Crank film series while unleashing an unstable balding one-man wrecking crew Jason Statham onto an adrenaline-powered audience. Granted the Crank franchise was perversely over-the-top in its bid for a cockeyed rush of outlandish thrills. Still, it satisfied its hormonal fanbase with imaginative and exaggerated gusto.
Now the directorial duo grab the reigns as they spearhead the second installment of Marvel Comics’ hot-headed anti-hero Ghost Rider/Johnny Blaze. In Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, the sequel to 2007’s anemic Ghost Rider, Nicholas Cage reprises his role as the hell-raising, flame-scorching devilish bounty hunter out to create havoc in whatever crosses his perplexing path.
Although slightly more engaging than its predecessor five years ago, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is marred by a sluggish script, cheesy and overwrought CG imagery and a ludicrous Cage performance that has now become commonplace for the once respectable Oscar-winner. Meandering, disjointed and unintentionally silly-minded, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance never quite matches the intensified heat as radiated from the movie protagonist’s fireball noggin.
Depending on one’s enthusiasm for warranted gimmicks, Vengeance does incorporate a couple of tricks up its sleeve. For starters, the film is shot in 3-D so one can appreciate the essence of a blazing motorcycle as an immediate in-your-face effect. Secondly, some may embrace or reject the inclusive sight gag of witnessing Ghost Rider’s flammable urine output. So are you thrilled beyond belief by these noted revelations?
The action percolates on Eastern European soil as the manufactured mayhem trudges along with so-so staged battles, recycled chase scenes and a hammy Cage awkwardly echoing redemption for his hedonistic hellion on wheels. Overall, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance feels flat as it flexes its rudimentary high-energy muscles to an otherwise flimsy story. Thankfully, the on-location shooting is indeed exquisite-one of the praising elements to this stillborn thrill-seeking thud of a comic action-adventure.
Sadly, the Neveldine-Taylor combo never manages to instill any of the aforementioned Crank-style frenzied allure that Vengeance needs desperately to replace its strained outlandishness. Cage is capable of recalling the inner delusional demeanor that could give the Ghost Rider chronicles its gritty due. However, laughable off-the-wall interpretations of his on-screen characterizations prove questionable and raise the continued inquiry into Cage’s clumsy mailed-in performances in instantly forgettable frenetic farces.
Can Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance burn its way into future installments with a head-scratching ragged Cage in tow and the continuation of big-budgeted spastic storytelling as its selling point? If so then Johnny Blaze/Ghost Rider may be reduced to the ridicule of being an uninvolving and glorified crime-fighting cigarette lighter.