Fried Take - "Rage" (2014)

Nic Cage is Nic Cage in "Cage," a movie where Nic Cage is Nic Cage in a role that was made for Nic Cage to act like Nic Cage in the way only Nic Cage can be Nic Cage.

That's a complicated sentence to read, which is exactly what this review needs, because I promise you, nothing else about this is going to be anywhere nearly close to complicated. What this sub-Taken thriller needs is a healthy dose of complication, actually, because what's here is some of the most formulaic bollocks Cage has ever agreed to act in. In fact, I am going on the record in this second paragraph and saying that this is one of the worst films Nicolas Cage has ever agreed to be a part of. So bad that only a career as stubborn and bullheaded as his could survive it.

As the opening spiel says, this is a movie where Nic Cage plays a very Nic Cage role. The kind of role where something is taken from him, he gets angry, something worse happens, and then he gets angrier. It's a comfortable role for him, I'd wager, because it requires no brain power from the guy at this point. I'd hazard to say that this is the kind of movie he does when he wants to add to his well-known comic collection, the way a prostitute does a quickie for a few extra bucks. Yes. This movie is the cinematic equivalent of a passionless handjob in a dirty bathroom: cheap, emotionless, and lacking in meaningful content.

This time around, it's his daughter who's been taken, but very early on we get the kind of jolt movies like this never have. That is to say, she's shot in the head and dumped in a river. Now, Cage used to be a criminal, and of course, has a pretty seedy past from that. He gets together his old crew, kills some people, cries some, yells a lot, bangs his wife, yells some more, kills some more. It's a lukewarm, predictable experience, and as soon as the film starts, you know exactly what you're going to get. Gruff archetypes, horrible female characterization, stale action with shaky cameras, lots of yelling and tough guy dialogue. This is very much a film made by somebody who has watched every Liam Neeson flick in the past few years, smoked some pot, then decided to make a clone of one on a bet from his stoner buddies. Oh, yeah, then passed the blunt to Cage.

It all makes sense now.
There's no other reason for the abysmal quality and utterly unoriginal nature of this mediocre revenge flick. Oh, sure, there are some attempts at okay storytelling. Some stuff about gun control seems to be a driving undercurrent, as does a criticism of vigilante justice, and maybe some attempts at character development happen. But the problem is that it doesn't hold together in the slightest. The writers and allegedly talented director throw so much shit at the wall, but none of it sticks, and the result is a room that's covered in metaphorical feces, a dirty mess that is best ignored. Everything feels like a disjointed wreck, only held together by a barely serviceable plot and Cage's unique brand of overacting. That last part is really the only reason to watch this, if you even plan to, because it's a thing of pure beauty. We're talking Wicker Man levels of hammy, overwrought acting done only because he wanted to buy some rare issue of Superman or something.

Which is the real kicker here. Cage is a fantastic actor. Always has been, in my unpopular opinion, and I feel like he's actually one of the best living performers out there. He's always willing to take some sort of risk, with barely any consistency between his roles. The best part is, he doesn't need quirky costumes or a silly voice like the stupidly popular Johnny Depp, and it's always been sad to watch Cage get mocked while we let Tim Burton's Ken doll get away with basically doing the same crap over and over again. Cage at least tries, for the most part, and I think that's what kills me about Rage. He's not trying. He's screaming, bugging his eyes, and aping some of his older roles, in vain hopes that it will carry a movie. He's pulling a Depp. And while I'd much rather watch Cage pull a Depp than Depp pull a Depp, I think all agree that pulling a Depp is one of the shittiest things any actor can do. It's not acting, it's just boring.

There's nothing much else to say about Rage. Everything is amateurishly shot. The script is absolute garbage, and the soundtrack is the most generic tripe you can think of. There is no fathomable reason why this movie even needs to exist, let alone star some genuinely good actors. Good actors, like Cage, Peter Stormare, and Danny Glover, who are all wasted on this low-rent, lowbrow, low-quality dreck. If you need a movie like this in your life, there are plenty. Abducted/murdered mother/daughter is a popular sub-genre right now, after all. But hey, instead of doing that, you know what you could do instead?

Go watch a good movie.


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