Dear Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,

A film about a motorcycle rider from hell that is surprisingly lacking in punch.

There is a point towards your end in which a character says something along the lines of “the apple doesn’t rot far from the tree.” Weird, because in your case the apple does rot rather from the tree. You are the progeny of a strange bond between artists who should, by all rights, be able to create a crazy, entertaining, truly original film.

Nicholas Cage is an actor known for going over the edge in odd, sometimes baffling ways. Neveldine/Taylor are the directors responsible for the Crank films, a duo of cinematic madness that are unbelievable and thrilling and endlessly entertaining. Even the basic premise of your story is the kind of thing that just sounds as though it is designed specifically to allow for the greatest  amount of madness and oddity.

The Rider.

Cage plays Johnny Blaze, a former motorcycle daredevil who made a deal with the devil to keep his father alive and wound up possessed by a soul-hungry demon who prays on the evil. To escape the obvious complications that come with this curse he moves to somewhere in the deepest, bleakest heart of Eastern Europe. He can’t escape the burden of his power, though, as he is soon recruited by a French priest named Moreau (Idris Elba) to help save a young boy named Danny (Fergus Riordan) who is being hunted by the Devil (Ciarán Hinds). Luckily, Danny has a resourceful and tenarious mother (the radiant Violante Placido) to help out.

This is all a recipe for insanity and audacious action of the highest order, and yet there is such a slight, airy quality to the proceedings that it barely feels as though anyone could be bothered to tap the full potential of your story. Cage is allowed one or two good freak outs, and yet for the most part he feels restrained. The action is subdued and aside from one set piece there isn’t as much genuine weirdness and eccentricity.

The one thing that can be said for your tale is that all of the actors commit to their roles heartily. Hinds gives a necessarily creepy performance as the dark lord, and Cage seems to enjoy his time both as the conflicted Blaze and the unhinged Rider. The best of te bunch is Elba as Moreau, who definitely deserves some kind of origin film.

So what else is there to say? Sadly, not much. You go subdued when you should go all out. You go quiet when you could go bombastic. You’re not outstandingly good. You’re not ground-shakingly bad. You’re just kind of there, and sometimes you spring to life, but often you seem to just be waiting for something better to happen. And so was I.

So long,

Brian J. Roan

About Brian J. Roan

Brian J. Roan has a B.A. in journalism from the University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism. He works in the PR industry. Follow him on twitter @BrianJRoan