Few actors run as hot and cold as Nicolas Cage. When he’s at his best, he can be mesmerizing, but when he’s off, he’s a lightning rod for really lousy films, which in their way can be almost perversely entertaining. Too bad there’s little entertainment value in his latest film, Rage.
Cage takes his turn playing Liam Neeson in Taken. As with Kevin Costner in the underwhelming 3 Days to Kill, Cage proves there’s no substitute for Neeson’s particular brand of skills.
Paul Maguire (Cage, Kick-Ass) is a reformed criminal who’s now a successful businessman. He’s married to a beautiful woman (the far too-young Rachel Nichols, Alex Cross) and his daughter, Caitlin (Aubrey Peeples) is surprisingly well-adjusted to her stepmother and has a good head on her shoulders.
Everything goes haywire once some masked thugs break into his home and kidnap Caitlin, prompting Maguire to go on a path of … rage to discover her whereabouts.
Cage gives an earnest effort here, but he’s not nearly the intimidating presence this type of revenge flick needs and his inability to be a credible vigilante makes for a satisfying experience for viewers. If anything, it makes you appreciate how Neeson, a full 12 years older than Cage is able to effectively convey being a bada$$. Cage’s best attempts are yelling, which somehow makes him less threatening. Fortunately Maguire’s former running buddies, Kane (Max Ryan) and Danny (Michael McGrady), are able to bring some much needed roughness to the film as they turn up the town searching for Caitlin.
Their efforts attract the attention of Det. Peter St. John (a slumming Danny Glover), who doesn’t try to stop their mayhem as cautions Maguire that the life he’s worked so hard to build could just as easily unravel with more rash decisions.
Director Paco Cabezas has an uphill battle trying to get Cage over as a ruthless, vengeful main character, but he’s also handicapped by his overly dramatic tone. Revenge flicks need a certain dose of dark humor so the audience can have some fun rooting the hero on.
Here, Cabezas sucks all the fun out of the story and doubles up on heavy-handed musical scores and one slo-mo action scene after the next. The action has a bit more realistic slant and looks brutal and decidedly not ‘cool,’ but it doesn’t matter when it’s such a chore to sit through.
There’s a twist at the end, but it’s the truly awful kind that makes the movie all the worse for the decision to surprise the audience.
You’d have to dig back through Cage’s recent catalogue to find a film as decidedly bland as Rage. This film will only leave you irritated as it’s not terrible enough to work up enough emotion to make you mad, just once again frustrate you with the knowledge that you wasted time giving Cage yet another chance to disappoint you. Only in that regard can the film be considered a success.
Rating: 2 out of 10
Photo Credit: Image Entertainment