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Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengence

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Released 17 February 2012
Director(s) Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor

Nicolas Cage, Idris Elba, Ciarán Hinds, Christopher Lambert, Johnny Whitworth, Violante Placido, Fergus Riordan

Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman, David S. Goyer

Ashok Amritraj, Ari Arad, Avi Arad, Michael De Luca, Steven Paul

United States, United Arab Emirates
Running Time 95 minutes
Genre Action, fantasy, thriller
Rating 12A


Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is an especially sad type of film, the sequel that no one wanted, expected or asked for. Even hardcore comic fanboys weren’t bombarding the internet forums with enquiries about a follow-up to the 2007 original. However it made some decent money, about $230 million worldwide, and rule number one in Hollywood is that if it makes money, knock out another one! So here it is, and if it serves no other purpose it does make Mark Steven Johnson’s first film look good by comparison.

It opens in a monastery in ‘Eastern Europe’, an undefined place where all sorts of nefarious things can happen without official interruption. A French priest on a motorcycle called Moreau (Idris Elba) visits a remote monastery and warns the head monk (Anthony Head) that the child they’re hiding is in danger. The smug monk assures him that they’re completely safe but then a gang led by Roarke (Johnny Whitworth) storms the place quite easily. The boy Danny (Fergus Riordan) and his mother Nadya (Violante Placido) escape, aided by Moreau.

Moreau then tracks down the Ghost Rider, otherwise known as Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage). If you don’t know how he ended up as the Ghost Rider, check out the original, or better still look it up on Wikipedia. Blaze is in hiding trying to stop the flaming soul-sucking skeleton from emerging at night. Moreau tries to convince him to help the boy and promises that his order of priests will lift the ‘Ghost Rider’ curse from him in return. Blaze agrees and sets out to find the boy who by now has now been captured by Roarke.

Roarke is in the employ of the devil himself (Ciarán Hinds) who needs the boy to fulfil some sort of prophecy or something. Halfway through the film, for some reason Roarke turns into a supernatural creature called Blackout who looks like a reject from The Rocky Horror Show. Some stuff happens, then some other stuff happens. Hey, if the writers can’t be bothered putting any effort into writing a decent plot, I’m not going to put any effort into describing it.

Remarkably they needed two directors to produce this garbage. Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor were the co-directors of the high-speed, low-IQ Crank series. They pretty much follow the same formula here, with the whole film feeling like one endless car chase. So what, it could still be brainless fun right? Unfortunately no, it's just too poorly made, badly scripted and appallingly acted to even be a guilty pleasure.

It feels like Nicholas Cage is just winking at the critics at this stage with his latest insanely over the top performance. That said, Idris Elba gives him a run for his money with a shameless display of scenery-chewing. For some reason Christopher Lambert turns up as a bald monk with biro all over his face. Northern Ireland’s Ciarán Hinds just tries to keep his head down and think of the holiday in Mauritius he can now afford with the hefty paycheque he’ll get for appearing in this dreck.

Even the special effects are naff, with the Ghost Rider looking like they got a joke-shop skull and just banged a few firelighters into it. It’s more amusing than scary. And almost needless to say anymore, the 3-D effects aren’t worth a damn.

Avoid this lazy, hopeless excuse for a film.

- Jim O’Connor