Two TV ads for the release of the film, Drive Angry 3D, featuring the actor Nicholas Cage.
a. The first ad began with a car crashing into a group of people. Large on-screen text and a voice-over stated Get ready for a hell of a ride. Nicholas Cage was then shown pointing a large gun and saying You can’t stop me. Various violent scenes ensued. In one scene, a man was shot through the chest at close range. In another scene a man was shown firing a gun and the bullet moving in slow motion towards the viewer. A subsequent scene showed a wrench fly through the air and sever a man’s hand with large on-screen text stating 3D. Then an axe was thrown in slow motion towards the viewer. A further scene showed Nicholas Cage being shot through the eye socket at close range. Then a man was stabbed through the shoulder. Another scene featured a car hitting a man at high speed and a man’s body falling onto a broken window pane. Nicholas Cage was then shown punching another man in the face. The voice-over continued It’s the 3D movie event of the year. The voice-over and large on-screen text stated NICHOLAS CAGE, DRIVE ANGRY 3D. 18. IN CINEMAS FEB 25. In the final scene Nicholas Cage, with an open wound in his eye socket, shot at a man whose charred body was blown away.
b. A shorter version of ad (a) began with a young woman pointing a large gun and shouting Hey dickless!. The following scene featured a car chase between two cars travelling side-by-side and one driver firing a gun through the driver’s window of the adjacent car. Another scene showed the young woman punching another woman in the face. The ad then featured some of the same violent scenes as ad (a), in particular, the severed hand, the car crashing into a group of people, the close-up of Nicholas Cage’s eye socket wound, the man’s charred body being blown away and the man being hit by a car at high speed. The ad featured a similar voice-over and similar on-screen text as ad (a) but also referred in voice-over to eye-popping 3D. Issue
Two viewers challenged whether the ads were offensive, because they featured scenes of graphic violence.
Clearcast said they had approved the ads after considerable discussion around whether or not the ads were acceptable to be broadcast at all. They said that they certainly felt that, because of the blood and gore featured in the ads, they should be transmitted with at least a post-9pm restriction and they ultimately decided on the heaviest restriction available, which was a post-11pm restriction. They felt that was an appropriate timing restriction, and that the ads were acceptable for broadcast after that time, because the violence featured in the ads was comic-book surreal and would be appreciated more by a late night audience than any other.
ASA Assessment: Not upheld
The ASA noted that the ads reflected the adult content of an 18-rated film and had been given a post-11pm scheduling restriction. We acknowledged that the ads contained scenes of blood and gore that might be considered distasteful by some viewers. We noted that the film was intended to be seen in 3D by cinema audiences and the large on-screen text stating 3D and voice-over in the ads made that clear. We considered that some of the scenes, including the severed hand in both ads, and the flying axe in ad (a), had a three-dimensional feel to them because they showed objects apparently flying out of the screen towards the viewer.
We noted that the premise of the film was that Nicholas Cage’s character had come back from hell to avenge the death of his daughter. We noted that both ads referred to a hell of a ride and that, although only ad (a) showed Nicholas Cage being shot in the eye, both ads showed him with an eye socket wound and ad (b) referred to eye-popping 3D. We considered that, although it was not explicit that Nicholas Cage’s character was from hell, the fact that he was able to continue with his campaign despite having been shot through the eye at close range, suggested that his character was not human. We also considered that the scene showing the man with the charred body in both ads, albeit brief, also indicated that he was probably not human.
We noted that neither ads encouraged or condoned violence and none of the characters were obvious victims or underdogs. We noted that ad (b) included the word Dickless, and although this may have been considered distasteful by some viewers, we considered it was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence, especially to a post-11pm audience. Whilst we understood that the violent images in the ads might upset some viewers, we considered that most viewers would be aware that more adult material was likely to be broadcast after 11pm and that the majority of post-11pm viewers were unlikely to be offended by the scenes in the ads. For these reasons, we concluded that the post-11pm restriction was sufficient and that the ads were unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence to viewers when broadcast after 11pm.
We investigated the ads under BCAP Code rule 4.2 (Harm and offence) but did not find them in breach.