Despite all his Rage, he’s still just Nicolas Cage. And so, anyone puts down a few bucks to see this movie probably knows what they’re getting themselves into. Unfortunately for even the so-bad-he’s-brilliant actor’s most undemanding fans, however, this latest bargain-bin offering (previously titled Tokarev, after the make of a gun that winds up being integral to the story) is the worst thing that he’s ever been associated with. Not even the promise of more bizarre line readings and hilariously weird facial expressions to add to Cage’s already impressive collection of WTF moments is enough to make Rage worth your time.
With a movie as completely devoid of merit as Rage, I’m not even sure where to start. As written by Jim Agnew and Sean Keller, the film is essentially a series of loosely connected action sequences, every one somehow less compelling than the last. What little plot there is finds Paul Maguire (Cage), a former criminal turned legitimate businessman, going on the warpath in an attempt to find out which one of a number of nefarious gangsters from his past kidnapped his teenage daughter (Aubrey Peeples) and shot her in the head (that’s not much of a spoiler, as it happens very early on). Grief-stricken and furious, Paul recruits his old partners in crime (Max Ryan and Michael McGrady) to help him turn the local criminal underworld upside down and force his daughter’s killer out into the open.
Perhaps if Agnew and Keller had actually stepped back and thought about the script they were writing, they would have realized how utterly dull, repetitive and then (with the addition of a stunningly stupid third act twist) pointless Rage truly is. It has one of the most jaw-droppingly terrible endings I’ve ever had the displeasure of sitting through. And in the hands of director Paco Cabezas (Neon Flesh), it’s shoddily edited and lifelessly shot. If it doesn’t appear that even the filmmakers cared about what they were making, why should the audience?
Honestly, I tried to find some redeeming quality in Rage. But the only thing that I found even somewhat fun about it was a part in which Paul decides to interrogate a dead guy by repeatedly slamming his head in the ground and shooting him full of holes, all the while yelling at the corpse to give him answers. If the YouTube video “Nicolas Cage Loses His Shit” ever receives an update, that’s one scene almost tailor-made for it. What’s really, really sad about that hilarious moment, though, is that I don’t think it was intended to be comedic.
Even Cage himself, usually decent (and sometimes amazing, as in Leaving Las VegasAdaptation and Joe), turns in a truly awful performance. Maybe the actor was just adapting to his surroundings, like the great on-screen chameleon he may or may not be. But after a film as terrific as Joe, it’s depressing to see Cage in another paycheck flick not even worthy of going straight to video. Outside of a few riotous moments (like him giving a loser teen advice on how to pick up his daughter, or weeping hysterically in front of hardened criminals), Cage is painfully wooden.
As far as the supporting players are concerned, only Peeples gets out unscathed. Ryan and McGrady put minimal effort into playing career felons, and Danny Glover pops up for a little bit to embarrass himself as the least believable detective since Inspector Gadget. Peter Stormare (sporting a train-wreck of an Irish accent) stops by to chew the scenery, as does Pasha D. Lychnikoff as a nasty Russian mob boss named Chekhov.
Chief among Rage‘s many offenses is that it bores. With that title, and Cage in the main role, audiences expect the actor to get a chance to rampage. Sadly, there’s nothing at all memorable in terms of the film’s action, and Paul spends much more time moping around than kicking ass. And whenever the character does get to chase down his enemies or jump into firefights, Cabezas’s cheap shaky-cam techniques rob the moments of all momentum.
I can’t emphasize this enough – don’t see Rage. You can find the highlights from Cage’s freak-outs on YouTube in a few months, and everything else here is total garbage. The story stinks, the acting is consistently sub-par, and the direction and editing are borderline amateurish. The only true Rage you’ll find as far as this time-waster is concerned will be that of the unfortunate viewers who shell out a few bucks to see it.