Ghost Rider is a 2007 American supernatural superhero film written and directed by Mark Steven Johnson, the director of Daredevil.
Based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, the film stars Nicolas Cage as Johnny Blaze with supporting roles from Eva Mendes, Wes Bentley, Sam Elliott, Donal Logue, Matt Long, and Peter Fonda.
The film’s budget topped $110 million. However, box office receipts of $228,738,393 ensured that a sequel, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, was released on February 17, 2012.
In the American Old West, the Devil, Mephistopheles (Peter Fonda), sends his bounty hunter of the damned, the Ghost Rider, to retrieve a contract for a thousand corrupt souls. Given that the nature of the contract would give Mephisto the power to bring Hell to Earth, the Rider refuses to give him the contract.
A century and a half later, Mephisto reaches out to seventeen year-old stunt motorcycle rider Johnny Blaze (Matt Long) who is romancing his lady love Roxanne (Raquel Alessi), offering to cure his father’s lung cancer in exchange for Johnny’s soul. Johnny inadvertently ‘signs’ the contract. The next morning Johnny awakes to discover that his father’s cancer is cured, but his father is killed that same day in a motorcycle crash. Johnny accuses Mephisto of causing his father’s death, but Mephisto considers their contract fulfilled.
Years later, Johnny (Nicolas Cage) has become a famous stunt rider. Johnny meets his grown-up childhood sweetheart Roxanne (Eva Mendes), now a journalist, and he makes a dinner date with her that evening. During the same time, Blackheart (Wes Bentley), the demonic son of Mephisto, comes to Earth, along with the hidden Gressil, Abigor, and Wallow, a group of three fallen angels. They are demons who, after being exiled from heaven by Saint Michael, hid themselves in the elements on Earth. They are tasked by Blackheart to find the lost contract of San Venganza.
In response, the Devil makes Johnny the new Ghost Rider, and offers Johnny his soul back in return for defeating Blackheart. Johnny is driven straight to the station on his “first ride” where he transforms fully into the Ghost Rider…
Ghost Rider is a truly awful adaptation of a Marvel Comics supernatural super-hero strip that might have worked as a low-key, gritty, hard formulae quickie. Sadly, this blown-up $110 million-style abomination has little panache, coming across like a vastly over-budgeted TV movie, and with star names just going through the motions.
After his oddball role in the The Wicker Man remake, Nicolas Cage is once again out of place (although more so, if that’s possible?), foxy Eva Mendes seems merely embarrassed (though with her lowbrow CV she had no reason to be), Sam Elliot comes across like the drunken old-timer from Blazing Saddles and seeing Peter Fonda in this tripe merely reminds us how laid back and perfect he was in a certain other movie that featured big hogs with long forks.
For this comic book to big screen jump the use of oft-lamented CGI is understandable – how else would you render a flaming skull on a flaming motorcycle from Hell? – but unlike other fate-filled super-hero adaptations – the rest of what’s onscreen is so utterly vapid you care little about the supernatural creepshow on show. The result is amusing in places, but nonetheless a massive-budget dud.
Adrian J Smith, MOVIES & MANIA