Plot: Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage) is the greatest daredevil to ever live, pulling off the kind of stunts and brushes with death that his rivals wouldn’t even consider, let alone attempt. He survives crashes that would leave anyone else a corpse, but what no one else knows is that is knack for survival isn’t just luck, but tied to a dark ritual that he performed in his younger days. When his father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, Johnny strikes up a devil with Mephistopheles, who agrees to cure his father in trade for Johnny’s immortal soul. But as usual, the cursed deal is twisted to backfire and his dad soon dies anyway, but from a crash, not the cancer. This drove Johnny to leave his entire life behind, including his beloved girlfriend and start over, which led him to fame and fortune on the stunt circuit. But when his past starts to come back to haunt him, he learns the fee for his bargain is now due.
Entertainment Value: I love the idea of Nicolas Cage in a superhero movie, just chewing up scenes left and right, giving us the most manic comic adaptation ever, but sadly, that doesn’t happen in Ghost Rider. Cage has sparks of madness, but keeps things reeled in too much and once the superhero elements kick in, this turns from a passable movie into a dull mess. I know that might sound odd, but the origin story and Cage as a stuntman have more interesting threads, as the Ghost Rider side of the movie feels rushed and anti-climactic. The film is serious for the most part, but has a sillier, b movie style up to Cage’s transition and at that point, things are overly serious and convoluted, not much fun at all. The visual effects are atrocious once Ghost Rider shows up and the movie fails to capture the bad ass, horror inspired side of the character, opting for a generic take on the supernatural superhero. But there’s some mild fun up to that point, so fans of Cage or superhero cinema might have a few laughs here. I just wish it was wilder and put Cage’s crazed talents to better use.
As middle of the road as Ghost Rider is, if you took the same narrative and awful special effects, but dialed up Nicolas Cage’s performance, this could have been an over the top, super fun ride. Cage is the lone draw of this one, as the action is basic and the rest of the movie is passable, but generic and unforgettable. The first section of the movie lets him loose a little and he delivers some manic moments, but not enough and once the film switches to superhero mode, he is all but muted. This kind of bland material needed that burst of Cage’s signature craziness, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be and while he is fun at times, it just isn’t enough to carry the rest of the movie. Sam Elliott brings some good presence to a small role, while Donal Logue is competent as the worried best friend, but despite a good amount of talent involved, the script just never gives any of them enough to work with. The cast also includes Wes Bentley, Rebel Wilson, Peter Fonda, and Eva Mendes.