Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012) Movie Review

Nicolas Cage in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012) Movie Image

People seem to either love or hate 2007′s “Ghost Rider”. Personally, I don’t get the love/hate. It was entertaining, but it certainly wasn’t great by a long shot. It was what it was, and for what it was, well, it wasn’t the end of the world or anything. And so it’s with that, “Eh, whatever” shrug that I approached the sequel, 2012′s “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”. Is it a movie that I necessarily have to see? Not really, no. Okay, not at all. But is it a movie that I am completely averse to seeing? Nope. Not in the slightest. It probably comes as no surprise to hear that I found “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” to fall completely in line with expectations. Not great, but not the scourge of cinema, either.

Nicolas Cage returns as Johnny Blaze, former motorcycle stunt rider turned the avatar of an avenging demon spirit known as The Ghost Rider. (Or as he’s commonly referred to in the movie, The Rider.) Ol Johnny has traveled halfway across the world in order to get away from the deadly Rider, which is kind of silly, since the Rider resides, well, within ol Johnny. But whatever, Johnny is now hiding out in Europe, and that’s where our story picks up. It’s here that the mother and son duo of Nadia (Violante Placido) and Danny (Fergus Riordan) are on the run from Danny’s dear old dad, who also happens to be the Devil incarnate (Ciarin Hinds, so earning a paycheck). The Devil is feeling a little weak, and conceived the kid as his latest and greatest vessel. The end of the world, we presume, would follow if Mr. Devil is able to transfer himself into the lad.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012) Movie Image

Trying to stop this totally not cool deal is warrior monk Moreau, played by Idris Elba with an exaggerated (re: ridiculous) French accent. Moreau drinks his way through the movie, presumably because playing second fiddle to a guy with a flaming skull is still not routine to Elba yet, big paycheck or not. As a result, Elba is hilarious throughout, but unfortunately his warrior monk (riding a not-all-that-impressive bike, natch) goes missing for long stretches in the middle. Before he goes AWOL, though, Moreau recruits Johnny Blaze to save little Danny and his mum. Blaze, hiding out in a shabby warehouse, sees no point, but warms to the notion when Moreau promises a cure to his “problem”. How exactly does Moreau find Blaze? Why does Nadia instantly accept the idea that Blaze can transform into a dude with a flaming skull that can take a rocket propelled grenade at close range and not die? And why is the Devil so powerful and yet so lame at the same time? All good questions, laddie. The answer is: cause.

Basically a series of chase scenes, “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” is really just one big excuse for daredevil directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor to torch the European countryside with their brand of pyrotechnic mayhem. Nary 5 minutes go by in the film that doesn’t involve someone getting burned alive, turning into ashes, or risk getting various limbs severed from the rest of their body. Fortunately for all involved, the Devil and his contract bad guy (played by Johnny Whitworth) have a neverending supply of faceless henchmen to supply the Ghost Rider with target practice. It’s all very well done, if overly chaotic for those not used to Neveldine and Taylor’s methods. Moviegoers weaned on the boys’ “Crank” films or “Gamer” won’t have too much trouble following the trail of bodies, though.

Idris Elba, NIcolas Cage, and Violante Placido in Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (2012) Movie Image

It goes without saying that “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” barely has much of a narrative thread with which to string together a coherent movie. Not that you’ll mind too much, especially when Cage flips out (or threatens to flip out) and turns into the Ghost Rider every other 10 minutes. Cage is on full-tilt crazy here, whether he’s twitching his way through some ridiculous dramatic scene as Johnny Blaze or stalking victims as the fella with the burning head of fire in one of the movie’s many rock soundtrack-heavy action sequences. Whereas the first movie featured a mostly expressionless Ghost Rider on the screen, the sequel actually features a Ghost Rider that feels like it’s Cage playing the role underneath all that CG fire. Props to the actor, because honestly, he’s going out on such a limb here that you just have to admire the guy’s commitment.

“Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” is as simple as they come: bad guys chase boy; good guys flee bad guys; bad guys capture boy; good guys chase bad guys to retrieve boy. Repeat as needed. That really is all there is to the film, and honestly, in a movie where the hero turns into a ridiculous looking comic book character with CG burning head, expecting anything more than that is just, well, crazy. Neveldine and Taylor, with their ADD-afflicted sense of style and over-the-top for the sake of over-the-top gags, were born to direct films like this. “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance” is the kind of movie you don’t take mom and dad to go see; the loud soundtrack alone might blow out their eardrums. But it’s certainly not a bad excuse to hit the theaters with some buddies and a six-pack. Or two.

Mark Neveldine, Brian Taylor (director) / Scott M. Gimple, Seth Hoffman, David S. Goyer (screenplay)
CAST: Nicolas Cage … Johnny Blaze / Ghost Rider
Violante Placido … Nadya
Ciarán Hinds … Roarke
Idris Elba … Moreau
Johnny Whitworth … Ray Carrigan
Fergus Riordan … Danny
Spencer Wilding … Grannik

Buy Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance on DVD

About Nix

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Editor/Writer at Likes: long walks on the beach and Kevin Costner post-apocalyptic movies. Dislikes: 3D, shaky cam, and shaky cam in 3D. Got a site issue? Wanna submit Movie/TV news? Or to email me in regards to anything on the site, you can do so at nix (at)

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  • Juggernaut

    Good to hear. I figured that this would be more of the sane, middle of the road, action romp. I’ll check it out on Blu-Ray in a month.

  • Bad Zack

    saw it today — it sucked wait for HBO or redbox or whatever

  • Eagle Eye

    I don’t intend to see it, so can someone tell me if there is any hint towards Danny becoming the new Ghost Rider (savior at last from the ‘Cage’)!!!!

    And are there any scenes where you go, man, that was awesome?

  • Vineland13

    Been collecting Ghost Rider comics since I was a kid so I’m afflicted with a curse where I must follow the exploits of the Ghost Rider now matter how bad the story is. I’ll be trundling off to catch this one tonight. IMO Ghost Rider desperately needs the Alan Moore treatment that was given to Swamp Thing.

  • Cee Jay

    I can live quite happily forever without losing 90mins to this movie!

  • Tokyolegend1

    When i heard the promo “Valentines is over…But the flame still burns on.” I knew then and there that i would NEVER view this film in any life.

    • Juggernaut

      Hahahaha! I heard that and cracked up. Brutal, just brutal! Lol.

  • Tin Hoang

    “and honestly, in a movie where the hero turns into a ridiculous looking comic book character with CG burning head, expecting anything more than that is just, well, crazy.” that is selling the character short. You could say the same thing about the Dark Knight, but we have huge expectations because of what the director can do.

    Granted, I don’t have very high expectations for this movie, but not because of the Ghost Rider comic character, but rather the writer and director’s previous body of work.

    This movie had a sizeable budget, I don’t get why guys who have been given the reins to such a high profile project put out such a mediocre to bad movie?

    • Nix

      Ghost Rider as a movie character is limited in what you can do with him. He’s like The Punisher in that way. There’s only so many situations you can throw him into. A chase movie along the roads of Italy is basically what you’re stuck with when your hero is a motorcycle-ridin’ demon from hell. They already did the city angle with the first movie. Where else could you possibly put him? I sense that a lot of hate towards the movie is the film’s lack of “epic”. Ghost Rider is never going to be epic. It just doesn’t lend itself to that type of moviemaking.

      • Juggernaut

        You’re absolutely right. Ghost Rider is not an “Epic” character with an “Epic” story telling potential. Marvel has the Epic, big boys wrapped up for the most part. What these other movies should be doing is what they are doing: delivering action romps but, at the same toime utilizing the potential to set up a possible mash up film like Midnight Sons.
        All of the players in a movie like that are C level characters. Granted with better scripts, directors and casts they could deliver more but they are what they are. If Fox and Sony could step up the value of these stories a bit they could take them to the next level. Just using them as a quick cash cow is depleting the value of the characters and the brand in general.

        • Nix

          It’s the same reason that no matter how many times they reboot the Punisher, it’ll always feel … lacking as a “Marvel” movie. At the end of the day, it’s still just a guy with a gun going around shooting people. Nothing overly “epic” that. That’s why I always thought the Punisher would work better as a TV show, and was happy when they decided to go that route with the character.

          The thing is, fanboys and girls are now spoiled with the likes of “Thor” and the upcoming “Avengers” movies. Now everyone wants BIG comic book movies.

          • Juggernaut

            I’m happy with having smaller scale movies for the lower level characters. I agree that some would work better as television programs like Moonknight, Punisher even Ghost Rider. They actually seem to have set that up to be done with this movie. I haven’t seen it yet but it looks like Dan Ketch is being introduced in this film as a ten year old and may be phasing Nic Cage’s Blaze out of the cast. If so they could transition into a cable series with a lesser known cast and a teenage to twenty something Dan as the GR. That would be really cool. Then after a few seasons, if it developed a following, they could make another movie with the cast from the TV series and have Cage back as the ponytail having, leather duster weraing, shotgun toting badass from the late 90′s comics!

          • Nix

            The ending of GR2 actually just sets up a GR3 with Nic Cage.

          • Juggernaut

            Ugh. I was unhappy with him being cast in the first film. Then when I heard about this movie I was hoping for a reboot with a new cast and take on the material. Now we’re not even getting a fresh take the third go ’round!

  • Bad Zack

    as an action movie it gets a c pretty average — but the story was bad –

  • punisher

    I must be the only person to actually like this movie, well it wasnt the greatest but the feel of the movie was great i thought its so much more dark and gritty and Cage is like trying to keep his sanity threw out the whole movie its sweet plus we get even more of an origin. Also the action i believe was alot bettter he uses more things fucks more people up and even gets fucked up himself. If you are wanting to see this id say go check it out on the big screen because the effects were well worth it

    • punisher

      plus its just a fun movie to see with comedy in it lots of action more ghost rider cool effects whats not to like


    it’s really BAD…I got my money worth by watching another movie.