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Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2011) [a second opinion]

June 13, 2012

MY CALL:  So bad.  At times funny, but ultimately not worth the guilt of choosing to watch something so inane.  I never want to see or hear about this movie again. [D] WHAT TO WATCH INSTEAD:  Want to see someone with cool powers fighting a cool devil?  Watch Constantine (2005).

They waste no time lacing this movie with implausibility.  Even after we accept the existence of the supernatural Ghost Rider as a given, the super high-tech monks in minute-two had me Oh God-ing from the very start.  I’ve seen these monks before, too, so this ridiculous concept isn’t even original.  The Van Damme-Dennis Rodman buddy action flick Double Team (1997) had them, too.

Spirit of Vengeance follows the new wave franchise trend of going international with the storyline.  Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker saw Rush Hour traffic in China and France.  The Karate Kid series kicked young adult butt in Japan and China.  The Fast and the Furious stamped their passports in Japan, Brazil, and the UK in the upcoming Fast 6 with Haywire’s Gina Carano and returning Dwayne Johnson.  And the Indiana Jones and Mission Impossible series always takes place in other countries.

We receive a nice little Cage-narrated background of why and how Johnny Blaze became “the rider.”  Later, we also learn just what the Spirit of Vengeance actually is.  We meet some techno-monks and learn that some child’s fate will determine the fate of the world.  And then there’s the incentive.  Some “ancient church” will remove Blaze’s curse if he saves this boy from the devil.

Let’s add some cynical irony, shall we?  In Stigmata and Dogma our theological keystone characters were atheists and one of them worked at an abortion clinic.  In this, the boy and his mother are drifters who hustle their way from one meal to the next.  Then there’s our cell-phone toting, business class devil (Ciarán Hinds; The Woman in Black).  I prefer my devils more like the Bedazzled Elizabeth Hurley, Angel Heart’s Louis Cypher or Constantine’s Lucifer.  Our devil just isn’t sleek, off-putting, or handsome; just a lame, old school CEO-type.  His powers are limited on Earth, in human form, and he relies on deals to find emissaries to carry out desired tasks.

For Ghost Rider the action is good, what little there is, and the effects are A-one.  They also had a little fun with the concept that whatever Ghost Rider rides becomes sort of a Hellfire version of itself. 

But the cons outstandingly outweigh the pros.  The story is lame, the primary antagonist is a regular human schmuck (Carrigan) and he is later transformed into a somehow even less interesting and dumb looking supernatural semi-undead villain, Cage has some really weak father-figure moments with the boy, and the boring devil’s role is minimal.  Also Carrigan’s post-transformation make-up is awful and his action scenes are poorly imagined.  Carrigan’s face off with Ghost Rider is a complete disappoint.

So this is the best they could come up with?  Son of Hobo with a Shotgun, here?   He looks like he should have a cardboard sign at an interstate exit ramp.

Christopher Lambert (Beowulf, Highlander) plays the ancient church’s monk leader with mad face tats.  They are pressure point senseis, expert winemakers with a 2000-year old wine cellar, and gunsmiths of advanced artillery—making them the second least plausible monastery ever in this movie (second only to the techno-monks).

Nic, that’s exactly how we all feel after watching your movie.  Now how many Aspirin do I have to chase with vodka to forget that this movie ever happened?

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