Nicolas Cage, the Oscar winner with the 'accolade' no other star wants: the most bewildering CV in Hollywood. There's something so bizarre about seeing the man from Birdy, Raising Arizona, Moonstruck, Wild at Heart, Red Rock West, Leaving Las Vegas, The Rock, Face/Off and Adaptation now installed as the speed-dial guy for so many non-event movies - you can't fault his work ethic, but his quality control filter is far beyond on the blink.
It would be great to say that this sequel to 2007's Ghost Rider - a film notable only for making $228m at the box office and swelling the global numbers in the Eva Mendes fan club (lads, she's not in this one) - was some Dark Knight-esque surprise-em-all that showed its leading man on top form, but it only presents Cage watchers with a familiar dilemma: whether to laugh or cry.
Some years have passed since his first movie adventure, and flame-headed tortured soul Johnny Blaze (Cage) is now slumming it in Europe, lighting up the night and ruing that deal with the devil (Hinds) which saw Blaze's father's life spared and him become a two-wheeled outcast.
Blaze, however, is given a shot at redemption when a monk, Moreau (Elba), tells him his curse can be reversed if he can save a young boy (Riordan) from the devil. So off Blaze and Moreau set, determined to fight the good fight until the end - or perhaps just get through the plot as quickly as possible.
Review embargoes until the day of release are never a good sign, and, sure enough, this plays like a flung-together mess and makes the original look like shamefully overlooked Oscar material. Cage grimaces his way across Europe/a desperate script; the set-pieces are poor and while the rendering of Blaze as Ghost Rider is impressive, the novelty wears off before the halfway point. There's so little imagination and so little energy that Spirit of Vengeance is a shoo-in to join the original Punisher (1989) and Captain America (1990) movies in the bin marked 'Worst Marvel Adaptations' - for a film all about salvation, the only one here is that Hinds isn't on-screen long enough to be contaminated.
Save your money for The Avengers or something else further down the line. If someone suggests going to see this, respond with the full-on terror and conviction of the hero at the end of The Wicker Man.
No, not the Nicolas Cage one.