Ghost Rider - Spirit Of Vengeance (2011)

Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance Movie posterWhen I first heard that there was going to be another Ghost Rider movie I was cautious, especially when it was said to be a sequel and a reboot. It sounded like it was complete BS from Columbia Studios to get people to ignore the first film, which while it made money it didn't survive the critics wrath as other comic book adaptations have and was treated almost as poorly as the dismal Catwoman. It wasn't that the first film was bad per se, more that you had to remove certain parts of your brain to enjoy it.

Then I heard that it was to be directed by the guys that did Crank and its sequel, which made me feel a little iffy – Would this be a serious attempt to make an action-horror or would it just be a series of over-the-top explosions with little in the way of plot? Then came the first trailer for Spirit Of Vengeance and the trepidation went away. It looked good and the story, while cliché, sounded like it could be pulled off reasonably well. It seemed like there was going to be a melding of the crazy action that these guys do plus a decent good versus evil plot that if anything should at least be entertaining. And there was Idris Elba in there for good measure.

I should have known better.

This was one of the worst comic adaptations I've seen. It would be easier to say what I liked than what I didn't as the film left such a poor taste in my mouth I've started to think better of the first film. Spirit of Vengeance feels similar to the Punisher: War Zone that came out a few years back – Half Hearted, poorly funded, ill-conceived, and a dozen other ways of describing dreck.

Where to begin? How about Nicholas Cage. Over the years I've come to get used to Nicholas Cage and the performances he delivers. Sometimes they are fun (Drive Angry) at others creepy (Adaptation) sometimes enjoyable in an Elvisy way (Matchstick Men), but most of the time it's the same bland character saying different lines. This time out, Cage plays his character as a junkie with a moral code who understands he's a dickhead and doesn't even try to change. That should say enough about this movie to make you put it back on the shelf and walk away.

As to the other actors: Violante Placido (The Damsel in Distress), Idris Elba (The Drunken Monk), Christopher Lambert (The Zealot), and Ciaran Hinds (The Devil) – their performances are far from being their A game let alone their C game. They are bored and uninterested.

As for the story itself? Well, it is less a Good versus Evil story as it is boring versus boring. In order for a film of this genre to engage you it needs either or both of the following:

An excellent Hero or Villain or at least someone charming enough to make you leave reality outside for two hours.

A brilliant script that enable the viewer to ignore poor performances because they are so engaged in the dialogue.

This film has neither. The Characters are just dumb and the actors really do nothing to make them anything more than cardboard cut-outs parading on screen. With not a single one of them redeemable you really don't care if they survive the film let alone the next minute or two (secretly you hope that they won't because then you wouldn't have to listen to them speak again). The dialogue is atrocious and the story labours from moment to moment like an amputated meth-head (not easily).

Probably the only thing this film has that can offer it up even an iota of redemption is the special effects. They honestly look good even if they are used in many a stupid and irritating way and aren't entirely consistent. How the studio or directors thought they'd be able to use the scene of Ghost Rider taking a leak more than once is beyond me, but they do and to the detriment of the product.

All in all, this film was a very poor outing for the Character and Columbia and should be avoided unless you take pleasure in badly made movies, and not bad in a good way, but actual bad. Thankfully this film didn't do particularly well (although it did make some money) so we probably won't have another offering from this soiled slate.

1 out 10 because even I don't have the heart to give something 0.


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