The boy is named Danny (Fergus Riordan), and he's being sought by the Devil (Ciarán Hinds) himself, with whom Johnny has a score to settle. As Johnny and Moreau try to escort Danny and his mother Nadya (Violante Placido) to safety, Satan recruits Nadya's unstable ex-boyfriend Ray (Johnny Whitworth) to bring the boy to him, fulfilling a prophecy that could spell the end of the world.
The End Result
However, as Neveldine/Taylor have shown in their previous efforts, their style is erratic. For every dazzling action scene, there's another that's head-scratchingly awkward in execution. Their frenetic, no-holds-barrred style lacks any sense of subtlety -- much like Nicolas Cage's performance, which has become a caricature of his old self. While in the first film, he used his manic eccentricities economically to maximize their impact, in Spirit of Vengeance, he's dialed up to 11 throughout (as he has been in pretty much every role for the past couple of years, as Season of the Witch and Drive Angry attest), further indicting the hamminess inherent in the Neveldine/Taylor formula.
While the darkness of the sequel (which is in some ways literal, as the Rider's skull is noticeably blackened compared to the original) works in its favor, its sophomoric stabs at humor fall flat, thanks in part to a dearth of the sort of humanity that lent some semblance of likeability to the first movie. The threadbare story feels like a script written on the back of a napkin, making the action and characters the primary draws -- the former of which is uneven and the latter is wholly uninteresting. Granted, no one expects an exceeding amount of character depth from a comic book flick, but at least Ghost Rider scraped together some emotion within its campy feel-good vibe.
- Acting: C (Cage is ridiculously over-the-top, but Hinds and Elba are solid.)
- Direction: C- (Despite a couple of impressive stunts, it's erratic and self-indulgent.)
- Script: D (Shallow characters and a predictable, minimal plot.)
- Gore/Effects: C+ (PG-13-level gore; good CGI effects on the Rider, but otherwise uneven.)
- Overall: C- (A superficial and inferior, albeit occasionally stylish, sequel.)
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance is directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor and is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense sequences of action and violence, some disturbing images and language. Release date: February 17, 2012.