I’m “biast” (con): nothing
(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)
At first I figured that it was only that Nicolas Cage had seen what Taken did for Liam Neeson — gave him a boost as a late-middle-aged badass action hero — and figured he’d get in on that. The premise here, after all, is this: Once-was mobster — that would be Cage’s Paul Maguire; it was the Irish mob — goes on the offensive after his teenaged daughter is kidnapped, apparently by some rival Russian mobsters he once pissed off. What could go wrong for a worn-out actor we’re all tired of seeing who is desperate to jump-start his career?
In fact, Rage is so far down the sad pit of Things Aging Movie Stars Do To Stay Relevant that it’s almost worth watching for how hilariously awful it is, if only sporadically. Mostly it’s amateurish and so distasteful it borders on the vile. Like how Maguire’s pals engage in random torture of a random innocent woman and then joke about it. We know they’re “good” guys because Maguire was gonna pay them $200K to help him find his daughter, but they’re such solid friends that they’re doing it all, torturing included, for free. It’s extra vile because this is one of those movies about how women are supposed to be off limits among these criminals, except when it’s “funny,” I guess.
As Cage (Joe, The Frozen Ground) goes about attempting to pump up his stardom, we’re left to ponder how he could end up in a movie so weirdly and awkwardly directed that every shot looks like a rejected take from a particularly bad episode of an 80s action TV show, but with less emotional heft. The whole endeavor is entirely tone deaf, and never more so than when it thinks its being wise and insightful. (There’s a lot of cringeworthy “wages of sin” type stuff here.) It’s crammed with terrible acting, including embarrassing turns from both Danny Glover (Alpha and Omega, Death at a Funeral), as the worst cop ever, and Peter Stormare (22 Jump Street, Pain and Gain) choking out the most hideous Irish accent ever, and not excluding a couple of incidences of histrionic Cage Rage that are almost beautiful in their terribleness. It’s cheap, too, the “city” of its unnamed setting so seemingly tiny that it doesn’t seem big enough to support one ethnic mob, never mind two. (Turns out Rage was shot in Mobile, Alabama, and I hasten to add that I do not mean to impugn a presumably fine city that may well be perfectly capable of supporting numerous respectable organized-crime syndicates. It’s just that here, the “city” appears to consist of three buildings that might have elevators, one strip club, a couple of alleys, and not much else.)
Perhaps the oddest, most distasteful thing of all is how director — I use the word loosely — Paco Cabezas manages to create, though probably only accidentally, a sense of violent nostalgia for Maguire’s past life in a story that ultimately is meant as a cautionary tale about what happens when you’re in the mob and bring your work home with you. Slo-mo car explosions filtered through hazy memory seem rather inappropriate in such a context.