Hey, look: forgive me if I don’t want to be the one to tell you to put the latest Nicolas Cage effort back on the video store shelf where you picked it up. By now, you ought to know that if you haven’t heard of it, then it very well may not be worth your investment. Try as it might, RAGE certainly never shows all that much rage; and as the actor’s shooting star continues to plummet through the atmosphere with successively smaller features this flick is marginally tolerable.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
From the product packaging: “Paul Maguire (Academy Award winner Nicholas Cage, LEAVING LAS VEGAS) is a respectable businessman and loving father living a peaceful life … until his violent past comes back to haunt him. When his teenage daughter is taken from their home, Paul rounds up his old crew to help him find her … by any means necessary. His search for justice leads Paul down a dark and bloody path of revenge, betrayal and long buried secrets.”
Here’s the thing about crime thrillers: even the most used and re-used ideas can be elevated to the level of ‘watchable’ so long as the film is given some worthwhile or unique cinematography. (Isn’t that what Martin Scorsese teaches us?) If you don’t have a compelling vision with which to keep the audience interested in roads so well-traveled they’re now available on Google Maps, then you’ve no one else to blame BUT the creative crew for the resulting boredom.
Now, RAGE had potential. Yes, the villains are kinda/sorta the Russian mob – and, yes, I know that’s been done to death – and, yes, I realize Peter Stormare has been the ‘go-to-guy’ for this kind of role for, what, thirty years – and, yes, this is a role we’ve probably seen Nicolas Cage do so many times he can do it in his sleep – and, yes, seeing Danny “I’m getting’ too old for this sh#t” Glover as yet one more police officer filling out the same tried and true shoes – and, yes, Rachel Nichols looks downright fetching in just about any role she takes – and, yes …
You see where I’m going with this?
RAGE hasn’t been just done before. It’s been done to death. Still, if a director can fill the screen with enough flash, sizzle, pomp, circumstance, and blood, then folks still show up for these films. How do I know? Well, I for one show up for just about every one of them that ponies up at least an interesting coming attraction … so if I’m still showing up then I know others are, too.
Unfortunately, director Paco Cabezas fills this feature with as much cinema appeal as last week’s rerun of MATLOCK on the SuperStation. Everything is given as much generic charm as he can light and shoot in a workday. The end result? Nothing has any zest. Nothing has any swagger. Even Nicolas Cage’s fight scenes with his character’s weapon of choice – a knife with a slickly-designed handle – ends up blending in with the woodwork when undeniably it was meant to shine.
So, no, it isn’t a complete waste of time: it has Rachel Nichols, after all, and I told you she was fetching, right?
RAGE (2014) is produced by Hannibal Pictures, Marco Polo Production, Patriot Pictures, Tokarev Production, and Vocal Yokels. DVD distribution is being handled by RLJ Entertainment and Image Entertainment. As for the technical specifications? This is a smartly shot film, and it necessarily includes some high quality sights and sounds (though some incredibly unimaginative TV-scale cinematography). Lastly – if it’s special features you want – then you have an assortment of short items including some deleted and/or alternate scenes as well as an alternate ending that might be a bit more ‘personal’ than the one the theatrical cut delivered. Meh.
(MILDLY) RECOMMENDED. At this point in his career, Nicolas Cage probably has a patented acting scowl for any and every character derivation. He’s got one for the criminal he plays. He’s got one for the businessman he plays. He’s probably even got one for comic sensibilities! No matter the character motivation, Cage has a scowl for each and every one of them. And that’s really all I feel he offered of himself in RAGE: a scowl worthy of his vaunted reputation.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at RLJ Entertainment and Image Entertainment provided me with a DVD copy of RAGE by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review; and their contribution to me in no way, shape or form influenced my opinion of it.