Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance (2012)—A Ride Straight Through Hell
If there’s one thing Hollywood is notorious for, its creating unnecessary sequels to films which are successful, be it critically or financially. While Nicolas Cage’s 2007 Ghost Rider film is by no means a well-made film, it’s still enjoyable to watch. That sentiment cannot be said for its sequel, which is a flaming mess straight out of Hell from start to finish!
Johnny Blaze (played by Nicolas Cage) struggles to contain the Spirit of Vengeance within him as it punishes those found guilty of any crime. A French monk named Moreau (played by Idris Elba) warns of an attack by Mephisto (played by Ciaran Hinds) who is after a boy named Danny Ketch (played by Fergus Riordan) so that he can make him his vessel. Blaze at first doesn’t wish to get involved until Moreau says he could remove the curse of the Ghost Rider.
Now if you thought the first Ghost Rider movie was bad, this one is absolutely insane. Hell, even the cinematography is insane! There are so many quick cuts and shaky cam I thought the camera operator was suffering from alcohol withdrawal. The opening chase sequence with Moreau was so dizzying to watch, I actually found myself getting motion sickness. Now you may just think that the excessive shaky cam is only used for the action scenes, well you are dead wrong. Many scenes where a static shot would have been more beneficial had unnecessary shaky cam added to it. Why? I guess it makes the shot more dynamic?
One thing that I’m rather mixed on is the appearance of Ghost Rider. In the first film, he sports a cleaner look, complete with motorcycle paraphernalia and a flaming white skull. However in this film, he looks much grimier with a charred flaming skull and similarly charred and soot-covered clothing. While it makes sense why he would look that way due to being from Hell, I personally preferred the cleaner look from the first movie. Thankfully, the MCU changed his look back to that of the first film in his debut in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Now let’s talk about why this film doesn’t make any sense. To address the elephant in the room, Ghost Rider appearing during daytime is absolutely ludicrous! In the previous film, it was clearly established that the Rider can’t appear during the daytime; Johnny even reverts back to his human self whenever the sun rises. But in this film, he has no problem remaining as the Ghost Rider when the sun rises, because…it’s cool?
I’d like to also point out how ridiculous the villains are in this film. For all the fans of Mephisto, you’ll be sorely disappointed. This is easily the worst rendition of Mephisto or even the Devil ever seen on film! He doesn’t possess any cool powers outside of giving a guy the “power of decay,” basically entailing that whatever the guy touches will decay. The only problem is, the power itself seems to be very situational. He touches wood and an apple, and both decay. However, he later gets behind the wheel of a car and the steering wheel doesn’t decay. You might think that it only decays organic material, but he touches steel, and the steel rusts. So how does his power work?!
The only good part of this movie would be Nicolas Cage’s acting. I’ve previously said that even though a Nick Cage film may be bad, Nick Cage’s performance is always a joy to watch. And in this movie, he is at his…“Cagiest” to say the least. My favorite scene would be when he interrogates a man who was associated with Mephisto. Cage begins laughing as he begins to lose his grip on the Rider, who wants nothing more than to rip out the guy’s soul. The scene is so iconic that you just have to see it for yourself to get a good idea of what Cage is like when he goes full Nick Cage.
Additionally, the scenes with Ghost Rider are pretty cool. My favorite moment would be when Johnny Blaze uses a fucking crane as a weapon against Mephisto’s men. How badass is that? If only the entire film could be that badass, then I would’ve had a fun time watching it. Sadly, that’s not the case. And to think that Idris Elba decided not to appear in The Avengers to be in this slop fest…that’s just depressing to think about.
Unlike its predecessor, Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance is a clunky and incoherent mess of a film. Although there are a few good moments with Cage’s manic acting energy and badass action scenes, there are not nearly enough of these moments to make up for the absolute schlock that is littered throughout the rest of the film. With rumors of Ghost Rider being brought to the MCU outside of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., let’s hope that Marvel will learn from its past mistakes and finally do Johnny Blaze justice.