Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance: Cool Heads Don’t PrevailFebruary 20, 2012
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Ciaran Hinds, Violante Placido, Johnny Whitworth, Idris Elba
Rated PG-13 (parents strongly cautioned) for scary stuff of all sorts, occasional rough language and painful-looking urination
Running time: 95 minutes
By Neil Genzlinger in the New York Times
We now know why it has been such a mild winter in much of the United States. Nicolas Cage has been warming the atmosphere by riding around with his head and motor vehicles on fire again.
Cage is back as Johnny Blaze in a new Ghost Rider film, subtitled Spirit of Vengeance.There’s good news: The movie has a bit more coherence and considerably more humor than the first installment, released in 2007. And humorously is the best way to view this silly enterprise, in which Cage’s character (based on the Marvel comics) acts as a bounty hunter of sorts for the Devil and has a tendency to burst into flames.
Here, Johnny, a former stunt motorcyclist, has the task of keeping a boy safe. Not just any boy; this one, Danny (Fergus Riordan), has semi-infernal parentage, and his biological father has big plans for the lad.
Johnny sets a terrible example for cyclists everywhere by riding without a helmet himself — surely flameproof ones are available — and letting Danny do so as well. The film, though, has some redeeming qualities, including the presence of Idris Elba as the obligatory good guy, who encourages Johnny to get Danny into the protective custody of a religious order.
It’s rough going, but that doesn’t stop Danny from asking Johnny important questions like what happens if he has to urinate while he’s on fire. The resulting visual gag will probably amuse the target “Ghost Rider” audience, which is apparently large (the original film took in more than $115 million domestically) but perhaps not that discriminating.
The funniest moment, though, comes courtesy of Blackout (Johnny Whitworth), an evildoer whose mere touch causes decay. He’s having trouble getting something to eat, because when he grabs a piece of bread or fruit, it shrivels. But one well-known snack food proves that some ingredients are beyond even the power of hell itself.