Nicolas Cage has been in a lot of bad movies, but 2012's Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance might be his worst.
After the 2007 mess that was Ghost Rider, somehow it was deemed good enough to get a sequel in 2012. I’m going to assume this was already in the works before the first movie was even released because there is no way a sequel should have been greenlit.
Ghost Rider should have been an awesome cinematic feature, especially with Nicholas Cage in the starring role. The story of a Marvel anti-hero literally on fire, riding a motorcycle, and destroying the souls of the wicked sounds like a compelling film. But the first movie, despite the cool Ghost Rider design, flopped on its storytelling. And after the sequel, even Nicholas Cage (who will usually say yes to any role), announced that he was officially “done” playing Ghost Rider. We wouldn’t see another live-action Ghost Rider (in the form of Robbie Reyes) again until 2016 during the TV show Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
There was apparently a third Ghost Rider movie being discussed, but it was scrapped after Cage couldn’t take it anymore. And after watching this sequel, I can’t blame him for being fed up with this comic book series.
The movie starts out with an attack on a Romanian castle guarded by priests, and it’s clear that the assailants are after a boy named Danny and his mother, Nadya, who are hiding there.
A drunken Idris Elba shows up with an outrageous French accent to help the mother and son, but they escape.
Elba then declares that the only person who can protect the boy is the Ghost Rider. Alrighty, then.
We cut to Johnny Blaze who gives us a recap of the first movie before telling us that the demon inside him has been getting stronger, so he’s forced to go on the run. According to Johnny, the Rider doesn’t differentiate between infractions. It doesn’t matter whether you told a white lie or gutted another human being like a fish, the Rider will still happily eat your soul. He’s kind of a dick like that.
Jesus, Johnny, with a stipulation like that, you probably should have ditched the Ghost Rider curse in the first movie when the Devil gave you the chance. But no, you said you were going to use the power to protect innocents. Did you forget what we learned in the last movie? LOOPHOLES, Johnny. These things come with LOOPHOLES.
Later, Johnny happens to be cruising through Romania when drunk Idris Elba shows up. I'm not kidding, Elba's character’s schtick is that he’s always drunk.
Elba tells Johnny that he needs to help the boy we saw in the opening scene because Johnny and this kid are both connected to the Devil.
To sweeten the deal, Elba promises Johnny that he’ll lift the Ghost Rider curse and restore his soul if he helps this kid.
Wait a minute, I thought Johnny got the deed to his soul back in the last movie and just kept the curse? There are so many inconsistencies here and we’re not even through the first half-hour.
Johnny as the Ghost Rider tracks down Danny and Nadya who have been found by their attackers. He’s able to save Nadya from being killed, but the goons take Danny away.
Then they shoot the Rider with grenades which puts Johnny in the hospital.
Really? This is what it takes to disable the Ghost Rider? This is just sad.
After convincing Nadya to accept his help in finding Danny, Nadya reveals that she also made a deal with the Devil (played by Ciarán Hinds this time, not Peter Fonda).
After a drug bust went wrong, Nadya was on the brink of death when the Devil offered to save her life in exchange for impregnating her with his son.
Again, does no one ever consider the consequences of bargaining with the Devil? You WILL be on the losing end of the deal.
As Johnny eloquently puts it, Nadya is the Devil’s baby mama and Danny is literally the spawn of Satan. And Devil-Daddy wants his son so he can transfer his essence into Danny’s body and have limitless power in the human world.
Johnny and Nadya find a contact to interrogate on Danny’s kidnappers which prompts Nicholas Cage to go on yet another Cage-tastic epic freak-out complete with bulging eyes and pitchy screaming.
And we are treated to cartoon Cage faces like this:
Also, I don’t know what it is about this movie, but the Ghost Rider looks far less impressive than he did in the first movie. The only thing the first movie had going for it was just how awesome the design of Ghost Rider looked. Here, it looks like either the CGI quality took a nosedive or the movie is just so bad that it’s making Ghost Rider look worse by association.
By the way, have any of you ever wondered how Ghost Rider pees? Well, I sure as hell didn’t, but this movie decided to enlighten me, anyway. That’s the type of movie we’re dealing with.
For those of you who were wondering (as Danny apparently was), Ghost Rider’s urine is fire, and he pees like his penis is a flamethrower.
Oh God, at least half of you reading this are probably having inappropriate fantasies about flaming urine.
Idris Elba takes Johnny, Nadya, and Danny to his monastery for protection. He tells Johnny that the Ghost Rider was an angel named Zarathos who went crazy, but he’s ready to make good on his promise to exorcise the curse.
But first, Johnny has to tell a deep, dark secret. Johnny confesses that his deal with Satan to cure his father’s cancer was actually a selfish one — his father was prepared to die, but Johnny wasn’t ready to let him go.
Doesn’t this undermine the premise of the last movie? Before, everyone was going on about “the power of love,” how Johnny made his deal for the “right reasons,” and all that other My Little Pony crap. That may have been stupid, but at least have some continuity here.
Elba manages to expel the Ghost Rider from Johnny just in time for Danny to be recaptured by the Devil’s henchman, whom I believe is Rhaegar Targaryen on crack.
Idris, Nadya, and a de-Ridered Johnny have to save Danny before Papa Satan can do the soul transfer.
They manage to stop the ceremony and Danny uses his newly discovered Devil powers to restore the Ghost Rider and the power of Zarathos back to Johnny. Johnny uses his power as the Ghost Rider/Psycho Angel to banish the Devil back to hell and heal Danny after he’s critically injured.
Johnny then peaces out and drives off into the distance, leaving Nadya and Danny behind in the desert.
So, is Johnny cool with being Ghost Rider again? Is he still going to be killing people for minor infractions? Is Danny the Anti-Christ now?
It doesn’t matter because the movie is finally over and I’m not going to complain about that.
Here’s something I didn’t notice before. When I looked up the cast list for the movie, I noticed that Nadya and Danny are listed as having the last name, “Ketch.” Their last name is never mentioned in the movie, so I didn’t make the connection, but clearly this was supposed to link the story of another Ghost Rider, Danny Ketch.
Ketch in the comics was never the Devil’s son, and never even made a deal with him. After being attacked by a gang, Ketch found a motorcycle with a mystical symbol and was transformed into the Ghost Rider after touching it.
Deviation from the source material aside, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance was dreadful to watch. The story was clunky and badly written, and it did a lousy job linking the sequel to the first movie. It was as if the writers forgot most of the first movie’s plot, which led to inconsistencies in the sequel. The first Ghost Rider at least had some cool CGI going for it, but the effects in this sequel definitely took a hit.
The acting isn’t much better, possibly because of the badly produced film. Not even Idris Elba could save this movie. Honestly, I don’t know how he even got signed to this project. I know his character is supposed to be an alcoholic, but if Elba was actually drunk throughout the entire movie, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.
You and me both, Idris.
Rewind is an Inverse series that remembers the forgotten performances we love.