Rage Movie Review
Nicolas Cage acts his socks off in this thinly plotted thriller, which is set in the same moral universe as the Taken movies, where mass murder is excusable if your daughter's been kidnapped. Despite a low-budget aesthetic, director Paco Cabezas invests each scene with straight-faced emotion, never acknowledging the general implausibility and irresponsibility of the story itself. But with Cage's rampant performance and Cabezas' visual style, the film almost works as melodramatic escapism.
Cage plays slick businessman Paul, who has finally put his criminal past behind him. But when his over-protected 16-year-old daughter (Aubrey Peeples) is kidnapped, he digs out his old leather jacket and turns to his boyhood partners in crime (Max Ryan and Michael McGrady) for help. While Paul's new young wife (Rachel Nichols) urges him to sort out this mess, his old police detective pal (Danny Glover) warns Paul against taking the law into his own hands. But he can't help it. Especially when it becomes clear that the Russian mobster (Pasha D. Lynchikoff) he clashed with nearly 20 years earlier might be involved in an attempt to get revenge.
While the plot itself doesn't have any real surprises, it at least tries to twist and turn its way through the story. And along the way, Paul's experience gets increasingly emotional, giving Cage the chance to indulge in everything from slow-burn frustration to tear-stained grief to full-on mad-dog violence. Rage indeed! Cage explodes with fury so many times that he seems in danger of transforming into the Hulk at any moment. And the actors around him wisely back up and let him have the stage to himself. Otherwise, there isn't much to the film, with a series of average car chases and fist-fights that are brutal but forgettable.
It doesn't help that, as the story builds, it becomes increasingly clear that the screenwriters are hiding key information, throwing viewers off the scent with flashbacks that are obviously unreliable, clues that are misleading and characters that seem to be up to something. But all this does is alert us that there's another shoe waiting to fall, so none of the surprises pay off, and none of the characters develop any intriguing shadings. In other words, the film is resolutely simplistic, although there are enough artistic flourishes to keep it from being a complete waste of time. On the other hand, it's impossible not to realise that each character deserves whatever fate is coming for him. Which leaves the audience without someone to root for.