When the directing due of Neveldine/Taylor exploded onto our screens with Crank, at first I didn’t quite know what to make of it. Eventually I came to enjoy the zany and terribly offensive movie for what it was, but each film they’ve moved onto since then has been somewhat of a failure. Gamer had some wonderful ideas but was drained of any emotion or likeable characters, whilst Crank: High Voltage felt like a cheap rip-off of the original film that failed on just about every single level. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance doesn’t exactly buck the trend.
The film starts off with a nifty recap of the first film, which is nice because it was kinda shit and it would be unfair to require people to have seen it. Whilst Spirit of Vengeance is a sequel of sorts, all the information you need to understand it is contained within.
This time, Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) is hanging out in Eastern Europe (presumably because it’s a cheap place to make movies) when he gets asked to save a child the devil (Ciarán Hinds) has in his sights. Johnny already has it in for the Roark (as he is known), so it isn’t long before he’s off to save the child and his mother, whilst doing his best to direct the Rider away from anyone who doesn’t deserve to have hellish fury rained down upon them.
A case in point would have to be probably the most emotional scene of the movie, one where Johnny Blaze actually open up and tells us how he feels. As far as storytelling goes, this is a pretty important moment for his character. But what do Neveldine and Taylor do? They cut to a super long shot of Johnny so we can’t see his face at all. In a film filled with close-up, high-octane moments involving flaming skulls, they decide that the one sincerely human moment in the film doesn’t deserve a close-up. Insane.
In Spirit of Vengeance, the aforementioned good bits are the ones where the Rider’s onscreen. Why? Well, first of all, the visual effects are superb, and secondly because it means that no one’s talking. Instead, the Rider’s spouting fire whilst his victims shriek in terror, which is great. The stunts, cinematography and effects during the action scenes are all perfect, so it’s such a shame the film grinds to a halt every so often to provide us with some dull exposition.
Spirit of Vengeance doesn’t require too much of your attention and it’s mercifully brief. The madcap action scenes are really a lot of fun, and at the very least, the film has a brief running time of 95 minutes so it’s over reasonably quickly.Rating: