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Rage (2014)
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Hey Joe--I Hear You Shot Another Crummy Action Film"
1 stars

Well, that didn't take Nicolas Cage very long. After delivering one of the very best performances of his long, strange career earlier this year in the powerful drama "Joe," some movie fans, while hoping that his work there signaled a recommitment to his craft that would make better use of his talents, may have cynically wondered how soon it would be before he returned to the kind of low-grade junk that he has been wasting everyone's time and energy on for the last few years. Now, a mere three months later, Cage is back with "Rage," a depressingly dopey thriller that lacks the edge and originality of its title and which will almost certainly go down as one of the dullest projects with which he has ever been associated.

Cage plays Paul Maguire, a one-time hood for Irish mobster Francis O'Connell (Peter Stormare, not quite the first person you would think of to play a character named "Francis O'Connell") who managed to exit the world of crime unscathed and now seems to have it all as a wealthy land developer with a beautiful new wife (Rachel Nichols) and his beloved 15-year-old daughter Caitlin (Aubrey Plaza). It all comes crashing down one night when, while Paul and the missus are out and Caitlin is at home with a couple of friends, thugs break into the house, kidnap Caitlin and disappear without a trace or any ransom demands. Although Paul is now a legitimate businessman, the cop in charge of the case (Danny Glover) suspects that her disappearance has something to do with his unsavory past and when a disturbing discovery is made that confirms it, Paul, along with longtime cohorts Kane (Max Ryan) and Danny (Michael McGrady), cut a violent swath through the local underworld in order to flush out those responsible.

If you think that the above paragraph is just about the laziest and dullest thing that you have ever read, you should try (actually you shouldn't) seeing it being acted out for you in the most perfunctory manner possible as is the case here. The screenplay is little more than a blatant rehash of "Taken" (along with bits cribbed from "A History of Violence" and, of all things, the most famous scene from "On the Waterfront") with twice the sadism but only a fraction of the giddy thrills and excitement. Making his English-language directorial debut, Paco Cabezas demonstrates absolutely zero style and stages his action beats so listlessly that the banal expositional scenes seem taut and gripping by comparison.

Aside from Peeples, who brings a little zip to the film as Caitlin that is sorely missed once she disappears, and Stormare, who hams it up in what might have been once described as "the Nicolas Cage part," the cast can barely bring themselves to go through the one-dimensional paces of their characters. In a film like this, you can usually figure out who did it because that person is oftentimes the one who otherwise appears to be completely superfluous to the proceedings. Here, it is a little more difficult since every character on hand feels that way. Then there is the ending--dear god, the ending. Think of the dumbest ending that you have ever seen in a film. Now multiply that by the last two minutes of "No Way Out" and you will still be far away from the stupidity that you will encounter in the final reel here. In fact, my guess is that the reason why this film wound up premiering on VOD and is only getting the most minute of theatrical releases is because theater owners were afraid that most patrons would literally rip up the joint after discovering the big reveal. In other words, it could have used a little tweaking--preferably with a belt sander.

But you don't care about the particulars of "Rage," do you? All you really want to know is how crazy Cage gets and whether it worth seeing for that reason alone. Sadly, the man who launched a thousand YouTube clips reels with his oddball line readings and weirdo tics is clearly on autopilot this time around--frankly, his hair (which looks to be a throwback to his "Wild At Heart" do) is far freakier than any other aspect of his performance. It seems as though early on in the production, he must have realized that this was going to turn out like such past films as "Trespass," "Stolen" and "Seeking Justice"--an utterly anonymous and uninspired thriller whose only real asset is that it is so instantly forgettable that it will hardly tarnish his reputation any more than it already is--and just decided to give up and get through it without expending too much of an effort.

The one exception is an odd scene in which Cage's character attempts to extract information from someone by slapping and throwing them around, despite the fact that he already knows that the person he is interrogating is already stone dead. Alas, Cage's efforts towards "Rage" as a whole wind up serving as a parallel to what his character is doing to the stiff and in the end, the results are sadly the same.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=26957&reviewer=389
originally posted: 07/11/14 12:41:33
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User Comments

5/03/15 oz1701 would have made a good hitchcock presents if it was only 30 minutes long 2 stars
11/17/14 mr.mike Nothing great but a decent netflix watch. 3 stars
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Directed by
  Paco Cabezas

Written by
  Jim Agnew
  Sean Keller

  Nicolas Cage
  Rachel Nichols
  Peter Stormare
  Aubrey Peeples
  Danny Glover
  Max Ryan

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