My notes on the latest Nicolas Cage movie 211 – out in the US in cinemas,digital and VOD June 8.
A quartet of beardy mercs (Weston Cage, Cory Hardrict, Ori Pfeffer, Michael Bellisario) gun down a double-crossing business partner somewhere in Iraquistan, and are told that the only way they’ll get the cool mil they’re owed is if they rob a Stateside bank where the cash is stashed … which, of course, they set out to do. A bunch of vignettes introduce us to characters who are plainly about to have a bad day – veteran cop Mike Chandler (Nicolas Cage) is just-widowed, estranged from his daughter (Sophie Skelton) and soon to be forced into retirement … Mike’s partner and son-in-law Steve MacAvoy (Dwayne Cameron) has just found out his wife’s pregnant …bullied kid Kenny (Michael Rainey Jr) has just hit back and been sentenced to a day’s ride-along with the po-po … and the bank manager (Velizar Binev) is ticked off that he’s about to miss his wedding anniversary for job-related reasons.
On the model of 1950s crime soaps like Violent Saturday, the bad guys come to town and the heist does not go off without hitch – in fact, a café gets blown up as a (useless) diversion, hostages and cops get clipped regularly (but we only really care about Steve’s leg-wound) and the supposedly fearsome and super-efficient krewe turn out to be useless as bandits even as they fire off a ton of weaponry and blow stuff up. Cage is currently the busiest man in the industry, racking up the numbers of credits (in leading roles, yet) you’d associate with Danny Trejo or Lance Henriksen at their peak – and this is a pretty middling role for him, with a few licks about having to overcome his inability to communicate with loved ones and a grumpy attitude to his (inept) superiors. Mostly, though, he keeps his head down and goes up against military killers with full automatic weapons but brings them down with a side-arm. It’s got a lot of incident, but not enough suspense … Written and directed by former snowboarder and documentarian York Alec Shackleton. It’s pitched, a tad optimistically, as End of Watch Meets Black Hawk Down. Shot in Bulgaria.
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