Writer seeks vengeance on terrible Nic Cage film
I'd like to preface this review with the foreknowledge that several people will read this with a view of cynical pragmatism regarding the first "Ghost Rider" film. I've fought tooth and nail for weeks to defend my own personal excitement of "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" from the formulaic claim of "the first one sucked, how is this so different?"
Forgive my willingness to think people can actually learn from their mistakes, but I still believe that a supernatural vigilante action film directed by the directors of the insanely inventive "Crank" series, with a script initially written by David S. Goyer, had the potential to be a fantastic action movie, something made clearly evident as the film progresses. Unfortunately, despite out doing its predecessor – which is admittedly not a very difficult feat – "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" delivers an overall product that is extremely hollow.
In the vein of "The Incredible Hulk," "Spirit of Vengeance" is a loose sequel, tying into only basic plot threads of 2007's "Ghost Rider." Nicholas Cage reprises his role as former motorbike dare devil Johnny Blaze, who has since found himself wandering Europe, looking for a means of removing the curse placed on him by a devil, which transforms him into a bloodthirsty spirit of vengeance in the presence of sin. Blaze is approached by Moreua (played by Idris Elba), a monk who seeks out Johnny's services as the Ghost Rider in order to protect Danny, a boy being pursued by a devil as a means of transferring his soul onto Earth.
The film starts off with a bang, quickly achieving the status of what the first film should have tried to be. Idris Elba's charisma steals the show, and even Cage puts real effort into his role, showing more believable intensity in a single scene than he did throughout the entirety of the first film. Even the first appearance of the titular hero himself is somewhat impressive.
There's a bit of a mischievous bend to the Rider this time around. He seems to let his presence speak for him while he rocks himself back and forth menacingly waiting for the first thug of a group to attack. Sadly, it is when the actual fight begins that things go downhill. Despite all of the great build up, when push comes to shove, the action in this movie is just flat out dull. Ghost Rider himself has a terrific arsenal of powers to put on a spectacular show, yet he spends half of his time in almost every fight holding his opponents face and mugging them down until he just sets them on fire with his touch.
After the first 40 minutes or so, the movie awkwardly slows down to a crawl. The entire second act of the film is a showcase of everything that could have and has indeed gone wrong with it. The acting on behalf of the villains is awful. Johnny Whitworth as henchman Blackout loses all of his civilian charisma once he gains his powers and Ciarán Hinds as the devil, Roarke, is just plain terrible. He gives a performance that is somehow more laughably bad than Cage's inconsistent acting, which ranges from completely chewing the scenery to the lazy ‘mumbling intensely' method that he has come under fire for so much recently.
There are plenty of bad movies that I've seen recently, but "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance" is the first movie in a while to just break my heart. Sprinkled throughout the film are moments filled to the brink with potential and the final action/chase sequence is straight out of a "Ghost Rider" movie that I would die to see. I can only hope that sometime in the distant future, this character can be dug up again and done right. Unfortunately, the unlikely prospect of that happening doesn't change the fact that "Spirit of Vengeance" is just bad.
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