In which he struggles to deny the presence of Nicolas Cage and to accumulate the most equivocal aspects of the contemporary action film.
“Things don’t look so good from where I am.”
(confronts the camera)
I happened to see the trailer for Rage (or Tokarev) a few times in the theaters, it contained the best CAGE IN PAIN shot I had seen in a while, and with the absense of good unpretentious action this year, inevitably I watched it. Unfortunately. First of all, you do not cast Nicolas Cage to make him sit, stiff, catatonic, making the blank-faced tortured hero pose, listening to other characters talk about the problems of getting back to his bad old habits (Cage’s reaction shots in these situations are the funniest images of the year). Cabezas wants to compete with Patrick Hughes as the master in the issue of misunderstanding actors, and it is far worse when you are dealing with the last axioms of american cinema. Cage, the action hero, is the maniac fire-pissing carcass from Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, but here, there is not a hint of that until half of the projection, then things slow down again, more dialogues, more flashbacks, more wasted time, this certainly is not Taken, where conciseness was its essence, never deviating from the hero’s main objective, allowing only glimpses of what happened around him, the collateral damage, the horror of their actions, no need to make scenes to demonstrate affliction, but that would require a vision, too much trouble. Instead, his interest is in the non-drama of Rachel Nichols, teary-eyed and with the lack-of-facial-control expression, feeling sorry, because, of course, she is an actress besides eye candy. Also, there are a couple of friends who enjoy returning to the days of torture and killing, but unfortunately none of them is Dolph Lundgren, they could not hire him, but, well, Danny Glover must be doing something in there.
And another thing: it is not a great idea to shoot all your action sequences with the shutter speed so high that people’s members seem to teleport whenever they make an agressive move. This is the most lazy and annoying device in recent action films I can think of, besides the general problem of not knowing how to cut, when to cut, present as well, as the director’s idea of decoupage is to put stylish shot after stylish shot, independent of meaning (it can be just an extra walking, draw attention to the placement of the camera), none of the constant ruptures serve a purpose, everything lacks one. It was even worse to watch this right after Scott Frank’s A Walk Among the Tombstones, an exercise in precision. This is bad DTV with a theatrical release, containing the worst of the two worlds.