Nic Cage returns as the former stunt biker turned fiery demon Johnny Blaze, a superhero on a motorcycle that did a deal with the devil and now turns into a flaming-skulled vigilante and collects souls for the evil one.
The 2007 original Ghost Rider was received moderately well by fans but was panned by critics and nobody was exactly calling out for a follow up. Cage himself is a well-known comic book aficionado and bringing Ghost Rider to the screen was something he had long been interested in doing. He and many others were disappointed with how the original movie turned out and this outing was seen as something of a reboot rather than a direct sequel, a chance to correct what went wrong in the first instance and give Ghost Rider on the big screen another bash. With Crank directors Neveldine/Taylor at the helm, could they inject some fresh life into the flaming one? Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding no.
The plot, such as it is, sees Johnny Blaze brooding away in what appears to be a run-down garage, in the rather unspecific location of ‘Eastern Europe’. Here he is located by French biker monk called Moreau (Idris Elba) who tells Blaze that should he save a boy suspected to be of the Devil’s own seed from the clutches of Lucifer himself (personified by Roarke, played by Ciaran Hinds on top scenery-chewing form), his monastic order will save his soul and free Blaze of his demonic burden. This is all basically just a vague excuse however to get Johnny zooming across a series of barren landscapes on his bike, occasionally bursting into flame and killing some bad guys.
It’s an incredibly boring and unimaginative affair all round. The wafer-thin story is completely un-engaging and predictable every step of the way, the dialogue is laughable in parts and visually it’s completely dull as dish water. The original movie had a budget of around $110million, which a clearly unsure studio slashed this time out to around half that at around $57million. Frankly, unless Cage’s wig cost $50million, it’s hard to see where the money went. The whole movie plays out against ‘generic desolate landscape #4’, with drab and deserted very much the order of the day. In fact I’m pretty sure one set piece takes part in an abandoned quarry. A feast for the eyes it isn’t.
Movies like this are reliant on solid special effects and unfortunately here they are pretty ropey throughout with the apparent modus operandi of the directors being “throw in a bit more flame”. Shoddy FX work is hard to get past in this modern age of moviemaking and especially in a film whose main character revolves around their usage.
A film which centres on a demonic stunt biker should simply not be this boring. It’s a concept with great potential for pulsating action, and even with the directors of the much loved adrenaline-fuelled Crank movies struggle to concoct anything that really catches the eye.
There are a couple of small plus points along the way, Elba is suitably charismatic and does the best he can with a fairly limited role and secondary antagonist Ray Carrigan (Johnny Whitworth) becomes infinitely more interesting when he is turned into Blackout, a superhuman villain who can bring with him temporary darkness.
Cage does what Cage is expected to do and overacts to within an inch of his life, once again taking maniacal to whole new levels. Often twitching and frenzied and rarely to be found not shouting, he is what we’ve come to expect from modern day Cage, though surprisingly lacking in much humour throughout. A couple of classic Cage zingers here and there wouldn’t have gone amiss but instead he’s on deadly serious whackjob mode, instead of deliriously funny whackjob mode.
Stretched even at 95 minutes, this lacklustre and second-rate sequel will surely prove the death knell for the Ghost Rider franchise. Cage fans may enjoy his moments of insanity, but other than that, there’s really not much to enjoy here at all.
There’s the option to watch the movie in 3D should your home system support it, though bearing in mind it was retrofitted, I wouldn’t strongly recommend it. There’s a generous two and a half hours of special features to choose from including stories from the set, the expected deleted and extended scenes and an extensive 90 minute making-of documentary. None of it is especially new or enlightening, but it will be of moderate interest if you did actually enjoy the movie.