Starring Nicolas Cage, Fergus Riordan, and Ciarán Hinds. Rated 14A. Now playing
Back in 1999, Sean Penn declared Nicolas Cage a hack. (“He is no longer an actor.”) Penn’s blunt assessment was based on Cage’s ability to churn out a seemingly endless string of cinematic excrement. With Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Cage has managed to recycle his usual brand of populist crap by setting it on fire. A sequel to 2007’s Ghost Rider, his latest effort lights up like an outhouse version of cherries jubilee.
If you’re still reading, you’re probably expecting a synopsis. Fair enough, I suppose. Cage stars as Marvel Comics character Johnny Blaze, a former motorcycle stunt rider who sells his soul to the devil to save his father’s life. In return, he must suffer the fate of a hog-riding avenger: a skeleton with a flaming skull—and a red-hot bicycle chain—who toasts evildoers like marshmallows on a stick.
This time around, the Ghost Rider has to save a kid from becoming the son of Satan and destroying the world. The kid (played by Fergus Riordan) looks bored. The kid has a hot-looking mother (Violante Placido) who Blaze accurately pegs as “the devil’s baby mama”. She pouts and sticks out her chest a lot, but codirectors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor can’t keep her from looking bored either.
No amount of smoke and flame can hide the cheap production values here. I saw the 3-D edition (there’s also a regular version screening), but, as far as I can tell, it makes no significant difference.
As for Cage, he’s beyond caring. If you’ve seen any of his movies over the past 15 years or so, you know what to expect. The glazed eyes, the robotic voice, the toupee that sits on his head like a dead crow. But, then, it must be demoralizing to keep cranking this stuff out for the sake of a paycheque.
Watch the trailer for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.