Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Director: Neveldine Taylor
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Violante Placido, Idris Elba, Ciaran Hinds, Johnny Whitworth and Christopher Lambert
Distributor: Roadshow Films
Runtime: 96 mins. Reviewed in Mar 2012
| JustWatch |
Rating notes: Supernatural themes, violence and infrequent coarse language

For those who recognise the names of Neveldine and Taylor, they will know what to expect. Yes, it does have some resemblances to the much better written, acted and intriguing original Ghost Rider (2007 – and made in Melbourne). Nicolas Cage reprises his role (though a stunt double spends a lot of time riding Ghost Rider’s bike, his head a flaming skull, and his wreaking vengeance on mercenary pursuers led by Johnny Whitworth). I am not sure that Cage’s heart is in it sometimes.

But, back to Neveldine and Taylor. Their films so far are action extravaganzas, lots of flair, very showy, not too worried about characterisation, credibility or even themes and issues. It’s just go for broke. They came into our awareness with the two Crank films with Jason Statham no holds barred. Another film was the Gerard Butler computer game flashy actioner, Gamer. As we watch their films and are carried along with the energy (or exhausted by it!), the pace of the editing and the almost non-stop action, we might think that they storyboard everything, that they plan each sequence and frame, wanting them to be full and busy. So, its cinema flair for a fair bit of dramatic nonsense.

Ciaran Hinds is a devil who has made a pact with John Blaze (Cage) with the result that Blaze is possessed by the demon to wreak vengeance on whomsoever. Blaze would like to be exorcised (and, at one stage, he is), but demons are hard to shake and it is just as well the ghost rider returns otherwise the end might have been a bit of a fizz.

Oh, the plot.

The devil has impregnated a woman as part of her deal with him. There are some prophecies (spoken by whom is not explained), but the apocalypse seems to be upon the world and the devil wants his son so that he can possess him – and rule the world, of course. Blaze rescues mother and son but they keep being caught…

One fascinating aspect of this screenplay is the religious dimension, not facets of faith, but the use of religious symbols. We have monasteries of friars (Christopher Lambert is the abbott of one of them) who are alert to the prophecy. We have an itinerant priest/warrior (Idris Elba) who does the exorcism for Blaze after his confession and bringing out of his bag bread which he calls the Lamb of God and proceeds to break it and give it to Blaze in communion. I wonder what the graphic novel fans make of this. It does mean that they ought to have some knowledge of the Christian and Gospel traditions.

Just to see these scenes is not a reason to see Ghost Rider. It is really for the comics aficionados and the admirers of the extravagances of Neveldine/Taylor.

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