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dir Paco Cabezas
scr James Agnew, Sean Keller
prd Michael Mendelsohn, Richard Rionda Del Castro
with Nicolas Cage, Rachel Nichols, Max Ryan, Michael McGrady, Danny Glover, Peter Stormare, Pasha D Lychnikoff, Ron Goleman, Patrice Cols, Max Fowler, Jack Falahee, Aubrey Peeples
release US 11.Jul.14
Mad dad: Cage
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Cage gives one of his wrenchingly over-serious performances in this off-the-shelf thriller, even though nothing in the script merits it. Despite a few stylistic flourishes, a cheesy low-budget aesthetic is apparent from the start, while the thin script is just as generic as the title.
Brooding businessman Paul (Cage) and his pals Kane and Doherty (Ryan and McGrady) have cleaned up their lives after younger days running with a local mobster (Stormare). But when Paul's precious 16-year-old daughter (Peeples) is kidnapped, he puts on his old leather jacket and reassembles the trio to get even. The obvious villain is a Russian gangster (Lynchikoff) they attacked nearly 20 years earlier. But the cops (Glover and Goleman) just want the spreading violence to end. And Paul's new young wife (Nichols) is getting seriously worried that she's losing him.
The film is set in the same moral universe as Taken in which anything goes, no matter how vicious, if you're getting even for a crime against your daughter. So even though no one bothers to do any proper investigating, the body count grows to epic proportions. This gives Cage the chance to blast away at everyone in sight as he escalates from gurgling frustration to face-scrunching grief to scene-chomping fury. At several points we worry that he might actually transform into the Hulk.
But there's nothing exceptional about the film. Action battles are blunt and brutal, from car chases to fist fights. It's muscular and robust, but never remotely suspenseful or exciting, despite the canned TV-thriller score. It's also packed with flashbacks that feel eerily unreliable, as if the screenwriters are withholding key information they'll use for a plot-twist bomb later on. Some witty banter helps liven the tone, but the script is so thin that it never finds any surprising textures in any of the characters or situations
This simplistic approach allows for little more than vacuously melodramatic performances from actors who should know better than make forgettable movies like this. Fans of smashing cars, smiling bare-chested torture, blasting shotguns and slashing hunting knives may enjoy the carnage, but the main message that what goes around comes around leaves us feeling that perhaps these men deserve the violence that keeps revisiting them. And while the final spin offers some emotion and thematic texture, it's impossible to care who survives, if anyone.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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