I rather kinda like this growing crop of grindhouse style exploitation homages and modern takes that have been getting made over the past few years. I do. For the most part. I like that some of these films try to honestly capture that essence of the b-movies from the 70s, despite putting a contemporary spin on it. This film, even though it certainly does have its moments, unfortunately doesn't live up to what it could have been.
The story of the action film has a supernatural bent, and concerns an escapee from Hell who returns to Earth to stop a cult from sacrificing his granddaughter in a ritual designed to bring Hell on Earth. Along the way he teams up with a young lass looking for a new lease on life. While all of that is going on, the escapee, named John Milton (why does almost every film involving Satan have to have a character caleld John Milton? That stopped being clever and inspired long ago) is being pursued by a mysterious guy named The Accountant who sort of is there to play fixer and act as bounty hunter.
The plot is a mess ,and not really that unique, although I do like the idea of Hell being a prison with Satan as the warden and The Account as one of the guards. The story is mostly there as an excuse to have awesome cars, explosions, and gun fights. There's the prerequisite rock music of course, but that elements is really used to it's potential, which is surprising and a shame. I saw this in 2D, but from what I can tell, this is one of those movies there the 3D was only used as an excuse to have crap flying at the screen, and not to enhance the depth or anything. Given the material, that's totally passable, but the film works just fine in 2D.
Nicolas Cage adds another crazy character to his resume, althoguh he's more noticeably land and lifeless here with his performance instead of being the odd livewire I've come to love and defend. His lacking performance is more than made up for by the combined scenery chewing of Billy Burke and especially William Fichtner. Amber Heard is a lovely woman, and she has her moments of badass heroine, but there's not really a reason for her character to exist.
The action is over the top, ridiculous, and does have a couple of great WTF moments, although like I said, this is overall not really all that memorable, and it's stupid to no end, but Lussier at least is somewhat competant as a director. Hell, I was blown away by how much I enjoyed his My Bloody Valentine remake.
I did enjoy it though as entertainment. It's fun, never boring, and would be great to watch with a group of friends and a case of beer. It does suck, but it could have been a whole lot worse. It's just a shame it doesn't have the spark to really make it an explosive and notable film with a better conceived and executed story-even for a trashy b-movie.