Directed by: Paco Cabezas
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Rachel Nichols, Max Ryan, Michael McGrady, Peter Stormare, Danny Glover
Nicolas Cage now appears to be in his take the money and run phase. I could be wrong but this is his first direct to home cinema release since he became an above the title Oscar winning actor. Alas, it is my sad duty to report that this is not a shamefully ignored classic, but a thick eared slice of nonsensical action thriller that makes the Taken series look like the work of Jules Dassin.
I make no bones about it, I love Cage as an actor, and not in an ironic indulgent way. If art can have manifold different styles then why not acting? Since the advent of the method, performances have always aimed for verisimilitude, unless you’re playing pantomime villain in a summer blockbuster, then you are allowed too turn it up a notch. Cage can do quiet and baroque, weird and endearing, and has a mastery of counter intuitive acting choices, giving big performances where another would go quiet, and reigning it in when you would expect him to go grande.
That Cage is the best thing in Tokarev should be in no doubt. That he is the only thing worth watching is a certainty. Erroneously compared to Taken, this is more a revenge flick in the style of Death Wish, while aiming for the grandeur of Eastwood’s masterpiece Unforgiven in a once violent man forced to reawaken his psychological demons after the death of a loved one.
Cage plays Paul Maguire, a reformed criminal turned construction developer and family man. Still hanging out with his old crew (in scenes that are curiously reminiscent of Anchorman 2) and about to arrange a sweet sixteen birthday party for his daughter Caitlin (Aubrey Peebles) in one of the scuzziest bars imaginable. At a guess, Maguire was in the Irish Mafia, though no one seems to care to explain or do accents, apart from Stormare as a wheelchair bound head of the family. I’m not sure what accent he is doing, but it sounds like Ringo Starr reading Thomas the Tank Engine after a cerebrovascular accident.
It’s not giving much away to say that Maguire’s daughter is offed in the first act and Cage and his gang are out on an orgy of revenge (although budgetary constraints mean it’s more a bukkake of revenge), all while cop Danny Glover (who is less phoning it in and more texting it in) tries to reason with his better nature and let the police handle it, in a variation of the “I’m getting too old for this shit” performance he has been giving for the last 30 years.
There is nothing wrong with a bit of hokum, but this is badly shot and edited to nonsensical proportions (a car chase just over the half way mark is almost impossible to follow, with little sense of spatial awareness or coherence). The script doesn’t help with groan inducing lines such as “this shit’s about to get radical” and “you don’t bang strippers in your home,” which don’t seem like the sort of lines a grieving father should be trading with his buddies.
You do get two Cage freak out moments to add some value, and his ever changing range of toupees that this time seems to have been modelled on British 70s wrestler Mick McManus. On the whole though this is disappointingly unscuzzy, particularly as Cage has a propensity for up close and personal knife work that barely seems to leave a scratch.
With a climax that seems to think it is making a profound statement regarding the sins of man coming back to haunt him, a man unable to remove the shackles of his violent past, what you actually get is a dumb-headed reactionary psychopath who is getting his just rewards.
If you are to remember just one lesson from this film, it’s if you are dating Cage’s daughter he will expect you to get shot protecting her. Strictly post pub hours viewing.
A handful of deleted scenes and an alternative ending that plays out the same but in a more convoluted manner, and a trailer. Sound and vision on bluray all OK but some noticeable artefacts on night time scenes.
By Jason Abbey