The problem with making movies from comics is that if it isn’t being headed by someone who loves the characters/story, it shows. While I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Ghost Rider movie, I thought it was well-done, and did no lasting damage to the story. I even liked the nod to the cowboy-era Ghost Rider, played by Sam Elliot. I can’t say the same about the second installment of the series.
The new film opens with confusion at a monastery…a well-armed monestery, and much running and shooting, apparently in an attempt to capture a boy. We aren’t sure why, we are only offered a few clues as a woman, perhaps his mother, spirits him away from the gun thugs there to capture him. Anthony Head plays the head monk, and blessedly for his career, his screen time is short before he’s left a corpse on the floor. Unfortunately, the viewers aren’t as fortunate.
When we finally see Johnny Blaze, he is obviously worse for wear. He is hiding out in an abandoned industrial site in eastern Europe, where he is found by a survivor of the monastery attack, a wine-swilling, black motorcycle riding priest named Laurent, played by a slumming Idris Elba. He recruits a reluctant Blaze, who has struggled under the curse of the Rider, and is losing his battle to keep his humanity and to keep the Rider in check. What finally sways him is the offer to be freed of his curse in exchange for retrieving the boy and bringing him to the shelter of the monks (because they did such a bang up job the first time they had him in their custody).
As the story unfolds, the Rider comes out, and confronts the thugs as they are attacking the boy and his mother. Apparently, he no longer has the penance stare, and instead eats their souls in an almost special-effectsless scene. We find out that the mother was from a background that was like a Hell on Earth, and made her own deal with Rourke (the Devil) that left her with a young son, Jaime, who Rourke wants back. Rourke isn’t played by Peter Fonda this time out, and is instead being played by Ciaran Hinds, who I can only assume like Nick Cage, needs the money.
The story plods along, and we find out that Rourke wants Jaime so he can transfer his soul into Jaime’s body, which doesn’t have human weaknesses like Rourke’s body, which is “burning out”. Along the way, Eurotrash favorite Christopher Lambert, who reveals that the monks’ intentions for young Jaime are less than what had been billed, after the promise to free Johnny of the Rider had been kept, and the Rider had been taken from Blaze, leaving him helpless to intervene.
The climax left the predictable body count, and a new purpose for the Rider, as he was supposedly restored to his supposedly original angelic-type role. But aside from Idris Elba’s character, I found that I genuinely didn’t care what happened to anyone in this movie. By the time I got to the closing credits, I found myself honestly wishing that they would have made the movie about Laurent instead, as that would have been an infinitely more interesting movie. However, if you want to see a craptastic movie, either for an evening of shredding a crummy script with good and sarcastic friends, or just because you enjoy it when Hollywood decides that you’re stupid, and wants to prove it by selling you tickets, then Ghost Rider: Spirit of vengeance is for you. If, however, you actually liked Ghost Rider in all his four-color glory, avoid this like you would the Blade sequels, or the equally horrible Punisher movies.