We review Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance – A flaming wreck of a film, that's somehow both crazy and boring

6 min read
10

Nobody could ever really accuse 2007’s Ghost Rider of being a great film, but at least it’s biggest crime was just mediocrity. It had a few good ideas and themes, but was ultimately hamstrung by some script and directorial missteps.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance doesn’t misstep. No, it drunkenly careens down a trash filled hallway with its ass hanging out, shouting unintelligible obscenities and puking on anybody who even just looks it’s way before slumping into a drunken stupour in the corner, content to sleep in it’s own filth.

This time around we find Nicholas Cage’s Johnny Blaze hiding out in Eastern Europe, barely keeping his Ghost Rider side in check, when he runs into Idris Elba’s Moreau, a cat-eyed French priest of sorts, with an accent straight out of an episode of ‘Alo ‘Alo, who needs Blaze to track down and protect a young boy, Danny Ketch (Fergus Riordan), whom the devil himself (Ciaran Hinds) is after so that he can make the boy his next vessel on earth. Also after the boy is part time gun-runner, full time douche and soon to be superpowered villain, Carrigan aka Blackout (Johnny Whitworth), who happens to have a history with the boy’s mother.

Now lets face it, that story, while certainly not quite Shakespearean, is fairly sufficient for this type of superhero film, especially when you consider that amongst the writing credits you have the guy who wrote Blade and Batman Begins. But here’s the thing: Directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor didn’t make a superhero film. They made a Nicholas Cage Youtube gag reel, shot like an extreme sports music video, with a good smattering of WTF thrown in just for good measure.

Inexplicable edits and jumpy cinematography abound, and yet for all its frenetic filmmaking, they still somehow manage to make a film that just flatlines the entire way through. There’s no noticeable increase or decrease in pace, it’s all just one gear and that gear is “stupid”. This is due to the fact that Taylor and Neveldine have absolutely no idea of how to piece scenes together into a coherent whole. You just flit from one toothless scene to the next like you’re watching the world’s worst Powerpoint presentation instead of a fully structured film.

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Oh and if you’ve watched the trailer you have literally seen pretty much every single action sequence that the film has to offer, including the “bored me to tears” final boss fight.

Not helping matters is that “Ridiculous” Cage attacks this script like he’s just seen those “Nicholas Cage losing his shit” videos on the internet and taken them as a personal challenge to see how far he can push the audience before we just punch him in the mouth and walk away. There is an interrogation scene where the only coercion method being employed to extract information is actually Nicholas Cage losing his shit! And trust me, two minutes into it and I was ready to spill the beans on my deepest, darkest secrets, just to cut off his shrilling voice. And don’t get me started on the inexplicably long transformation scene, which I expect had parody video creators just wringing their hands in glee.

Now in the original film, despite its shortcomings, at least it had the innate badassness of the Ghost Rider to fall back on. Unfortunately, the Cagification carries through to when Blaze adopts the Rider persona now. This new version is not so much a supernatural Terminator with a flaming skull, as it is a mysteriously herky jerky automaton, that apparently has an LSD influenced Michael J. Fox at the operating controls. The character twitches and jerks all over the place, in between either just staring at people for long periods of time for no apparent reason (last time I checked, the Penance Stare was actually supposed to do something), or inexplicably rotating slowly in mid-air on its back, limbs akimbo, in the middle of a gun fight. Seriously.

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And while I expected the bulk of the characters to have less meat to them than Angelina Jolie’s ankles, I was at least hoping that the exception would be the Devil himself. Unfortunately, the usually reliable Ciaran Hinds uncharacteristically gives us such a boring and instantly forgettable performance, that he comes across more like a Wall Street banker with an ulcer than the Prince of Darkness.

The only positive point I took out of my entire experience of this film, was that Neveldine and Taylor have certainly nailed the visual aspect of the Rider himself. His new charred-leather garbed form astride his monstrous motorcycle, hellfire imbued chains whipping about, is pitch perfect. But don’t be fooled though, these attractive visuals are nothing but the invitation for you to step through the door, so that a bucket filled with cocktail of Taylor, Neveldine and Cage’s excrement can come crashing down on your head. I’m not falling for that gag.

Last Updated: March 8, 2012

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions – but very little sleep – I’ve been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

  • Let’s not blame the actors here. Maybe they must take some responsiblity for the outcome of Ghost Rider 2, but let’s not forget that Nevelidine and Taylor are two people who have zero understanding of story or the value of characters within a story.

    The blame rests entirely their in my opinion. They are talentless hacks who somehow, inexplicably keep getting work despite their resoundingly shit track record in terms of the films they have made.

    Please, let them either retire or die in an unfortunate incident involving napalm and a slo mo explosion.

    They bring nothing of any value whatsoever to cinema

    Nothing

    //rant over/ 

    • And to think, I really enjoyed Crank.

      • After rereading my review, I realized that I haven’t placed enough blame at the feces-stained feet of Neveldine and Taylor, so I tweaked it ever so slightly to address this oversight.

        • Wtf?

          Y’know, seeing as how you mentioned this:  When I saw the online trailer for this, they had this intro by Neveldine and Taylor…  Why my Hillbilly Alert failed me then I cannot understand to this day…  But I should have known better going into this movie.
          I loved the first movie.  And the really sad thing is this one hurt Ghost Rider where it matters most, box office takings.  So you can scrap the possibility of a sequel to this, me thinks.

  • Noelle Adams

    A moment of silence please for the money Mr Cloete flushed down the toilet watching this… PG-13 Ghost Rider movie, my ass.

  • Wtf?

    What really floored me on this was also this little thing called continuity.  At the end of the first film, Blaze tells the Devil: “I will own this curse…”  only to be found in the second film somewhere in Europe crying his eyes out and wanting to get rid of the Rider????
    If only the devil in the first film knew this, he would have given a dismissive wave of the hand, go ‘meh, whatever’ and went back to shagging some or other hell spawned concubine…
    I cannot believe that marvel approved this pile of crap…

    • Only because Ghost Rider is one of their lesser properties in terms of wide spread audience appeal (ie. people who are not Comic Book geeks).

      For their really big names (X-men, Spider-man, The Avengers) they’re not about to make the same mistake. Which is a pity. Ghost Rider has enormous potential to be a great deal weightier than the fluff which is currently thrown at the crowds. 

      A story about a guy who makes a Faustian bargain only to find himself living with a Curse that renders him a societal outcast? That kind of concept deserves better than the likes Neveldine and Taylor and it deserves better than a script more concerned with repetitive action sequences interspersed with dull dialogue.

      A young Robert Rodriguez (the one who made Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn) would be perfect for directing a Ghost Rider film. As would Guillermo del Toro with his ability to evoke sympathy for society’s monsters.

      Instead, the concept gets talentless hacks who can only see it for flaming skulls and motorcycles. To make a good movie out of it, you need to look deeper than that.

      Like I said, a pity

      • Now that you mention it, Rodriguez would have been an awesome choice. The most popular and influential modern Ghost Rider arc has to be Jason Aaron’s run from 2 years ago, where he really recreated the mythology of the character. The tale was a mix of supernatural horror and badass western, and would have been perfect for Rodriguez. 
        Some of the ideas from that bled through here, but only in the most poorly handled sense, of course.

        • He he. Like I said, the young Robert Rodriguez. Of late, Rodriguez has let me down. Not to go back to the Bad cinema debate but he seems to have lost the knack for doing an overblown film that has humour about itself without trivializing the concept. 

          Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn both had a knowing sense of humour that didn’t cross the line into fullblown parody. Machete, on the other hand, crossed that line and not only did it cross it, but it planted a flag there, claimed the land as a new and disappointingly shit territory and then proceeded to open a chain of taco restaurants there. It was shit.

          But yeah, a Ghost Rider film with the aesthetic and sensibility of Desperado and From Dusk Till Dawn, that looks at the main character, that would be great

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