July 24, 2017

Movie Review: Rage (2014)

Nicolas Cage is becoming one of those names you just cannot avoid when it comes to direct to video type thrillers. Sure, there is the occasional theatrical release, but the man has been so busy the past few years there is no way he is going to have everything reach the big screen. Just looking at his filmography is mind blowing. If you start with this film, Rage, in 2014, he has had 13 movies released, plus there are six more in various stages of production. That is an enormous output for a three year span. To some his name has been something of a punchline, but to others he is a big draw. That includes me.

All right, this really isn’t about Cage specifically, but when you are approaching one of his films it is hard to ignore. Generally speaking, when it comes to his recent films, he is the best thing about it. The reason is that the films otherwise feel quite generic, but his presence elevates the whole thing to a legitimate level of interest. A lot of it has to do with Cage’s eccentricities and his brand of over-acting, even when he isn’t he is. Rage does not feature the best of Cage’s overacting, but he does bring a lot of personality to the film.

Rage is a standard revenge thriller, the likes that you have probably seen time and time again over the years. Still. I find the film to be well worth spending some time with. Rage was directed by Paco Cabezas (Neon Flesh), who has spent the bulk of his time since working on television series like Into the Badlands. Fear the Walking Dead, and The Alienist. The screenplay was written by Jim Agnew (Giallo) and Sean Keller (Giallo, Kraken: Tentacles of the Deep). The work is certainly watchable and ultimately carries an emotional punch that I did not see coming. No, it is not groundbreaking, must see cinema, but it is certainly worth checking out.

Nicolas Cage stars as Paul Maguire, a former criminal turned businessman working in the construction sector. He lives a happy life with his young wife (Rachel Nichols) and teenage daughter, Caitlin (Aubrey Peeples of Jem and the Holograms). All is going well until they leave their daughter home with a couple of her friends when they go to a party. While at the party, they are interrupted by a police detective (Danny Glover) saying their house was broken into and his daughter was kidnapped. Just the sort of thing to encourage a former criminal to revisit his old ways.

Paul pays a visit to his old crew, Kane (Max Ryan) and Danny (Michael McGrady), and they go out and shakedown some of their old underworld contacts. Initially nothing turns up and then Caitlin is found dead in the woods, with a gunshot to the head. The bullet is discovered to originate from a Russian Tokarev pistol (the original title was Tokarev). This sends Paul out against the Russian crime family he used to work for. This triggers a mob war as Paul lets out his rage as he tracks down those responsible.

Once the climax is reached, it reveals an emotional punch that I was not expecting it to have. Granted, if I thought more about early actions I should have seen it coming. Still, I found the whole arc to be quite effective. It was aided by the presence of Glover and a couple of scenes with Peter Stormare. Of course, through it all was Cage’s steady presence, with the occasional over the top moment to make sure you remember who you were watching.

Rage is a solid direct to video thriller. No, nothing particularly great, but still, I quite enjoyed it. I put in on on a whim, based on Cage’s presence, and discovered a movie that seems to succeed in spite of itself. Will you miss anything if you don’t see this? No, not really, but if you watch it, you may be surprised that you like it.


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