Ghost Rider Mark Steven Johnson

There’s this brilliant thing that "the kids” are doing these days called "ghost riding the whip” where you set your car into neutral, get out and dance beside it while it rolls along with no one at the wheel. It’s a pretty fair metaphor for Ghost Rider: it wobbles along so slowly and unsteadily that you’d think no one was in control of it.

Ghost Rider stars Nicholas Cage as Johnny Blaze, a stunt motorbike rider who, as a young man, sold his soul to the devil to save his father. Blaze wanders America performing increasingly suicidal stunts with his love for his childhood sweetheart (Eva Mendes) unresolved until she, and the devil, return to his life.

If you’re wondering how on Earth a plot synopsis goes on for so long without once mentioning a dude whose head is a skull on fire riding a demonic motorbike around and hitting demons in the face with a flaming bike chain, it managed to accurately present the experience of watching Ghost Rider. It takes an age for the back story to get out of the way and the chemistry-free interaction between Cage and Mendes takes priority from that point on.

What makes it all the more distressing is that the action is actually pretty great. Ghost Rider looks cool (after all, everything’s cooler when it’s on fire) and each stunt or moment of violence is suitably exciting or cathartic, but it just seems to happen so rarely. Perhaps it was a demand of Nicholas Cage for screen time, or perhaps it was Mark Steven Johnson’s screenplay; his take on Daredevil also placed a syrupy love story higher on its priority list than hot, flaming action.

Ghost Rider has some brilliant moments but there are too few to recommend it whole-heartedly.

(Sony)