Dog Eat Dog18
Nicolas Cage is the acting equivalent of Donald Trump; he's made some terrible decisions over the years, but whatever he does, you can't help but watch him.
Much of it course, is down to who he works with. Here he teams up once again with Paul Schrader, long time collaborator of Martin Scorsese, for a dark and seedy thriller.
Three ex-cons who met in prison, are now all free and looking to work together. Troy (Cage) is the natural leader, with heavy Diesel (Christopher Matthew Cook) and the appropriately named Mad Dog (Willem Dafoe) under his command.
After a relatively easy first job, they decide to go for something a little bigger and more ambitious. They're offered a kidnapping job by a local Mafioso, but when the job goes south, the criminal trio find the bond they had in prison soon comes under scrutiny out in the big bad world.
It's no surprise that this film feels like an early Scorsese project. Schrader has collaborated on four scripts with Scorsese - Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ and Bringing Out the Dead - and his visionary style has certainly rubbed off on him when it comes to his direction.
The film is pleasingly cinematic and has a retro, old school vibe that certainly catches the eye. It is also aimed at a more adult market, which is refreshing in this era of Disney/Marvel titles that currently clutter our screens, which is also reflected in its 18 certificate.
Cage plays characters who are off kilter with no effort at all. However he is blown off screen by a truly intense performance by Dafoe; sorely underrated, Dafoe easily out-Cages Cage in the manic character stakes, delivering a disturbingly entertaining role that's worth the price of admission alone to witness.
What lets this film down, and sets it aside from a Scorsese film, is a disappointing script. With Schrader concentrating on directing alone, it was left to relative newcomer Matthew Wilder to adapt a script from Edward Bunker's novel which the film is based. Sadly Wilder is no Schrader, and the script is a limp, lifeless mess that ends up chasing its tail rather pointlessly.
The film had real promise too, and it's just remarkable that with Schrader's unarguable talent for writing, it was left to someone who is completely out of their depth on a project like this to supply the words.
Not a complete dog's dinner, but more of an example of what could have been, if only Schrader had it on a tighter lead.