Review: Ghost Rider — Spirit Of Vengeance

daniel cohen reviews the second installment of the comic-book film series …

Plot: Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) continues to struggle with his inner demon, the Ghost Rider. When he is called upon by Moreau (Idris Elba) to save a boy (Fergus Riordan) who the Devil (Ciaran Hinds) wants to use to return to power on Earth, Blaze accepts his role as the Ghost Rider, with the promise of Moreau taking away his curse.

I tend to be tougher on superhero movies, because it is a genre I love, and in the past few years, I’ve seen them be taken with such care and seriousness. So when I saw the trailer for Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance, it pissed me off, because it looked like a superhero movie from the old days: stupid, dumb action, and no thought whatsoever to story, character, or acting. Now granted, this is Ghost Rider, a C-list hero at best, so I wasn’t hoping for the moon here. But superhero movie or not: This movie just plain sucks.

First of all, we got to talk about Nicolas Cage. This might be the worst I’ve ever seen him. His entire performance is all Nicolas Cage-isms. And if you don’t know what that means, it’s basically how Jimmy Fallon portrayed him in those old SNL Celebrity Jeopardy sketches. Maybe this type of performance would have been tongue and cheek five years ago, but we’ve seen it enough now. It’s not funny anymore … it’s just bad.

It also doesn’t help that he has bad puns throughout the entire movie. The dialogue is terrible, and Nicolas Cage certainly isn’t pun friendly. So at one point he throws someone off a moving vehicle and says ‘roadkill.’ Yeah … this is the type of movie we’re dealing with here. The dialogue is like this throughout the entire film.

Now even though everyone has bad lines, I am actually going to compliment two performances. Idris Elba is giving it his all. Despite the bad script and terrible direction, he’s giving a worthy performance. Good job, Idris. I also enjoyed Violante Placido who plays Nadya, the mother of Danny, the boy the Devil is trying to kidnap. She’s charismatic, and looks good in the action sequences, even more bad ass than the ridiculous flaming skull head that is the Ghost Rider.

Alright, back to the negatives. The plot is a total mess. They refuse to explain anything until about forty-five minutes in. Look, I’m all for keeping your story beats close to the vest, but I need something to go on early on so I can care a little bit. I have no idea why this kid Danny matters so much. He’s just being chased by some generic villain (Johnny Whitworth) who has absolutely no personality.

Now look, I get this movie is about a guy who has a flaming skull head, who rides around with a flaming chain whip. I understand that plot is not going to be an integral part of this movie’s success … I get it. But the reason why I hate this movie more than any thing else is the action.

The action is filmed horribly! It’s nothing but lame shaky cam, jumpy edits, awkward close-ups, and it’s paced slowly. The whole idea of the Ghost Rider is that when he looks into someone’s eyes that have done evil, he sucks out their soul. At one point, he grabs a bad guy and just stares at him…for about two minutes! What the hell is this? Just get to the action! Seriously, Ghost Rider is just staring at this guy while all the other villains watch. What the hell! A Ghost Rider movie should have fast-paced well filmed crazy action where Ghost Rider is constantly unleashing his whip, and breathing fire. You barely get any of this! And not only that, the action sequences don’t even end half the time. They just randomly cut off into another scene where we suddenly get a close-up shot of Johnny Blaze riding his motorcycle…huh? What? What just happened! There’s even one point where Ghost Rider suddenly spins sideways in slow motion like a dreidel. Yeah, it just happens!

Despite a couple solid performances, and a decent last-act action sequence, this movie was boring, boring, boring. It’s one of those films that make you feel elated when the credits roll on. It’s tortuous to get through, and it’s barely over 90 minutes! What makes this film unforgivable though, is the one thing it should have is awesome action, but that turned out to be the worst part of the entire movie. The directors for this (Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor) are primarily to blame for this mess. Please stay far away from this film. If you see the Ghost Rider coming for you, just use a fire extinguisher on his head, and move on.

Rating: 3 out of 10 (Really Atrocious)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.