‘Ghost Rider’ fizzles out

“Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” provides the audience with about as much enjoyable entertainment as hitting oneself in the face with a brick for ninety minutes, and is considerably more painful to sit through.

Nicolas Cage (unfortunately) reprises his role as antihero Johnny Blaze, a man possessed by a mythical demon called “The Rider.” This demon presents itself whenever evil is around, and is apparently the equivalent of the Devil’s bounty hunter. In any case, someone should sic a bounty hunter on Cage himself, who puts forth probably his worst performance to date. While presumably trying to seem edgy and volatile, he comes off as a manic-depressive who skipped the last few rounds of his medication and lit himself on fire- except a manic-depressive would have put more life and realism into this role than Cage. No line was delivered with even an ounce of believability, and Cage’s facial expressions are less possessed-man-trying-to-get-by and more confused-monkey-armed-with-a-flamethrower.

The film’s plot (if there ever was one to begin with) is overshadowed by an apparent need for CGI-flames and cheesy dialogue, but the basic idea is that Blaze is coerced into escorting a woman and her son across Eastern Europe to get them to a monastery for protection. Why? Well, apparently, the boy is devil spawn- LITERALLY the son of Satan. Why is Blaze going through all of this trouble? According to his friend Moreau the Alcoholic Monk (yes, you read that right), the monks at the monastery know how to get Johnny the one thing he wants more than anything else: they can rid him of his curse. How? Well, the director apparently didn’t feel the need to answer that question, and instead chose to spend time answering more important ones like, “How many awkward camera angles can we put in one scene without making the audience upchuck into their popcorn?” or, “Is five straight minutes too long to show Cage driving a motorcycle whilst laughing maniacally?”

The supporting cast do their best to dance around the fact that the lead actor is a functioning schizophrenic, and do so with varying degrees of success. Johnny Whitworth plays Blaze’s nemesis Ray Carrigan, and seems to relish the fact that he gets to play the heartless bad guy (or maybe it’s just that he knows he’s the most attractive actor in the movie. Seriously. This guy makes Cage look like a senile gorilla. Well, even more than he already does).  Idris Elba plays Moreau the Alcoholic Monk, who spends his time drinking, making pithy comments, and providing the copious amounts of religious background that keeps the movie on its non-existent legs. He’s also French… for no conceivable reason, due to the fact that no one else in this movie is.

Fergus Riordan does a decent job at portraying Danny (the above-mentioned devil spawn), though his role consists mainly of running, looking meaningfully at someone, and getting his hair tousled by Cage. Violante Placido fills the gap of Helpless Love Interest, who in this case is named Nadya. She’s Danny’s mother, though she shows about as much maternal instinct as a salmon (Oh, you want to sit my thirteen-year-old son on the handlebars of your motorcycle, drive on the wrong side of the road, and pop a wheelie? Just make sure that neither of you are wearing helmets!). It doesn’t help that the chemistry between her and Cage makes “Twilight” look like the love story of the century.

Overall, “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” is good for only one thing: unintentional humor. Whether it’s overly-cheesy dialogue (“Did we win?” “HELL yeah.” Geddit? ‘Cause he’s from hell?) or simply one of the many miscellaneous stupid moments (The Devil’s name is Roarke. ROARKE. Why not a more threatening name, like Jimmy, or Sparkles Fantastic?), the audience spends a majority of the 95 minutes trying to conceal their laughter, just in case someone else in the theater is taking this garbage seriously.

Avoid “Ghost Rider: SoV” at all costs, unless you’re in the mood to laugh at someone else’s expense. And even then, you can always just take a look at the poor people watching the movie itself, because odds are that doing so is more difficult than anything Johnny Blaze is currently dealing with.

1 out of 5 stars.

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