Review in a Hurry: Nicolas Cage makes a deal with the devil, and his punishment is that he gets an awesome bike, superpowers and a flaming skull for a head. Satan’s just not as much of an A-hole as he used to be, probably because he’s played by Peter Fonda now.
The Bigger Picture: Seriously, people, if you’re going to go see a movie you know is about a biker with a flaming skull and magic chains, you forfeit the right to complain about how the plot isn’t logical or realistic. Or that there are too many special effects at the expense of story.
Cage has been itching to play a comic book character since forever, but it’s almost redundant since he practically is one in real life at this point, all tics and freak-outs and yells when he isn’t sounding stoned out of his gourd. Here, he finally gets his wish as Johnny Blaze, a motorcycle stuntman who made a deal with Mephistopheles (Fonda) to save his father from cancer, only to have dad promptly die in a stunt accident. It’s years later, and Satan’s pissy little kid, Blackheart (Wes Bentley), has decided he wants to be the main man, so the Easy Rider summons the Ghost Rider up to do battle by proxy. Everything after that seems like it was made up as they went along.
Had, say, Ben Affleck been the star, the movie would suck hard. But Cage is allowed to let his freak flag fly, downing jellybeans from martini glasses and repeatedly making scary faces at himself in the mirror. If you can roll with that, take the ride.
The 180—a Second Opinion: If you want to hate this movie (and lots of you will), start with Cage’s hairpiece and erratic accent. Wonder why the supernatural characters are impossible to beat except for suddenly when they’re not. Wish that Bentley were up to the challenge of matching Cage’s intensity.