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Nicolas Cage vs. the Russian Mafia (and Bankruptcy): “Rage”

September 30, 2014

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Well, look who it is! Ha, didn’t we know that it was only a matter of time before ol’ Nicky Cage made another appearance on this blog. Kind of missed him, didn’t we? Well, here he is and he is knee deep in mystery, violence, and the deep, deep south. Because when you think Mobile, Alabama, you think Nic Cage…with his hair dyed so black it absorbs light and crushes it into a singularity or something. You also think Russian mafia, because we all know that Alabama is the Little Odessa of the South.  Got a sense of what we’re dealing with now? Because that’s what we’re dealing with in the latest Cage vehicle Rage. Okay, let’s dive right in.

So, this is yet another installment in Cage’s late-career period (or as future film historians will undoubtedly refer to it, his “Did I Really Need to Buy a Second Castle” period). Like most of the movies that he now makes to stave off bankruptcy, this one’s a flimsy wisp of film that is actually ideally suited to a cheap DVD or hungover Saturday mindlessly enduring whatever dreck is on TV.

This poster is 100 times better than the movie.

This poster is 100 times better than the movie. Just stare at it for an hour and change.

In Rage, Cage plays…ah, some guy named Paul, I think. We’ll call him Paul. Anyway, he owns a construction company—the legitimatest  job there is—and lives in a spacious McMansion with his teenage daughter and hottie second wife (Rachel Nichols, probably wishing she was back in that Continuum catsuit). Everyone’s all happy, so you know that can’t last.

And it doesn’t. One night while he’s out at a fancy restaurant, eating fancy foods and doing fancy stuff, Paul’s daughter is kidnapped. Uh oh! As it turns out, Paul is actually a reformed gangster (well, duh), and his best buddies—two interchangeable nobodies I’ll just call Lunk 1 and Lunk 2—got out of the life when he did. Well, naturally they’re ready to help Paul out, so they head out to get some answers. And by “get answers” I mean “brutalize and terrorize black people.”

"I'm a Pterodactyl...a graceful, mighty Pterodactyl!"

“I’m a Pterodactyl…a graceful, mighty Pterodactyl!”

Unsurprisingly, this is somewhat less than effective, and soon enough Paul’s daughter turns up dead of a gunshot to the head.  Well, this sends things into overdrive as we learn that…okay this is where I have to admit I’m kinda lost. So, the mob Paul was a part of was, I guess the Russian mafia, but the Lunks are Irish and I have no idea what the hell Paul is supposed to be—a vampire, I guess. I don’t know what kind of mob this is, but they have pretty lenient entrance policies. Anyway, they got out of the business after they went against the boss’s orders and ripped off the rival mob’s bagman and killed him, kicking off a mob war. Given the fact that his daughter was killed with the same type of gun they killed the bagman with, Paul figures this is belated payback.

The face that says "Hell is coming."

The face that says “Hell is coming.”

So, they destroy some more of the rival mob’s businesses and kill their people and get nowhere in a hurry. In the meantime, Paul reignites a mob war, kills pretty much all the Russians that Denzel Washington missed in The Equalizer, and eventually gets Lunks 1 and 2 killed. In the end, Paul remembers Hey, wait, didn’t I hang onto that gun we killed the bagman with? And weren’t my daughter and her friends partying at my house the night she got killed? I wonder if….

Yeah, it was just a drunken accident and the kids lied about it. And now a ton of people are dead and Paul murdered Lunk 2 because he thought the guy was in on it. This is a dark ride.

"Okay, let's shoot this movie. I'll be over at Craft Services."

“Okay, let’s shoot this movie. I’ll be over at craft services.”

Now, there is a neat, pulpy morality tale here—a kind of noir tragedy in which one man destroys his whole world because of a simple mistake that played to the worst part of his personality. You can make a great movie with that story—look at The Long Good Friday. The problem is, that movie was carried by Bob Hoskins, and this one has Nicolas Cage. The difference being that Cage never acted opposite animated characters (in a film, anyway—he probably talks to several when he’s heating up his Ramen noodles at night), and Hoskins never crysterbated while slathering himself in black paint (see: Zandalee).

Finally got around to actually watching "The Wicker Man," huh, Nic?

Finally got around to actually watching “The Wicker Man,” huh, Nic?

So, yeah, this movie is a dark, gloomy tale with no real relief at its end. It also has:

* Lunk 1 to Lunk 2 (who is pointing a gun at a fleeing bad guy): “No! You can’t shoot someone in public!” I think we can be confident neither of these guys are on Mensa’s mailing list.

* Danny Glover is in this too, playing a detective whose job seems to consist solely of confronting Paul after he’s killed yet another bar full of Russian gangsters and telling him not to do it again. Which Paul promptly does. I don’t know what Danny bought with this paycheck, but I hope it’s shiny.

'Wanna grab a drink?" "I started while I was in make-up." "Good thinking."

‘Wanna grab a drink?” “I started while I was in make-up.” “Good thinking.”

* On that note, apparently you can get away with a lot in Mobile. Including pumping bullets into a corpse in broad daylight.

* With any other actor, a scene in which he simply screams at another guy, “Rat! Rat! Rat! Rat! Rat! Rat!” would be odd. With Cage, eh…that’s probably what he does while he brushes his teeth.

* The original title was Tokarev, which is name of the MacGuffin gun. It’s a Russian army sidearm from the World War II era that was basically a knockoff of the Colt .32 automatic. I’ve never fired one, but they’re supposed to be pretty nice.

* Cage doesn’t knock himself out in this movie. When he visits his daughter’s body in the morgue, he basically just sways a little bit and whispers.

"Uh-huh...dead...yep...oh, the pain...oh the humanity..."

“Uh-huh…dead…yep…oh, the pain…oh the humanity…”

* Peter Stormare shows up in a couple scenes, but he’s criminally underused. Peter Stormare is kind of wasted if he isn’t being weird.

* The moral of the story? Don’t keep the gun you used to start a mob war. And if you do keep it, don’t leave it loaded. And if you do keep it and keep it loaded, don’t leave it unlocked. And if you do keep it–loaded and unsecured–don’t leave the (un)lock box in your closet where dumbass teens can find it.

I kinda think Paul had this one coming.

[youtube+https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jt3LuGrkkHc]

One comment

  1. Nick is great in this movie it reminds me of
    the life I had growing up. But if you think the USA is honky dory you need to open your eyes it’s all over the world.



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