Directed by York Alec Shackleton. Starring Nicolas Cage, Dwayne Cameron, Amanda Cerny, Michael Rainey Jr., Sophie Skelton, Weston Cage. USA 2018 86 mins Certificate: 15
Out on Digital Download on 16th July and DVD on 23rd July from Lionsgate
Nicolas Cage makes so many movies that your local Asda could easily create a Nicolas Cage DVD section (perhaps a literal “Nicolas DVD Cage?”) and be able to rotate the stock each week. LOOKING GLASS would already be on offer as “Free With Any Purchase of Anything Whatsoever”. Quality control not required. This week’s new Cage release is a rote would-be thriller from the Avi Lerner shot-in-Bulgaria assembly line and directed by York Shackleton. His name awkwardly sounds like a low-rent kinky nightclub up North – the kind of place where you can pay to be strapped to a spinning wheel while having your scrotum tormented with a fibre-optic cat o’nine tails as a starved and horny gerbil nibbles on your butt cheeks. Arguably a more enjoyable experience than watching 211.
It opens on an exciting note with that most cinematically thrilling of establishing scenes: close-ups of electronic bank transfers on a laptop in Afghanistan. A bunch of military-garbed heavies are betrayed and denied the million-dollar pay-out for their Middle East shenanigans and retaliate by staging an elaborate bank heist on the streets of Massachusetts – cunningly shot to resemble a Bulgarian studio backlot. Police officer Cage is close to retirement and patrolling the streets with his son-in-law / partner (Dwayne Cameron), while a bullied high school kid (Michael Rainey Jr.) joins them as part of the court-appointed ride along forced on him after he avenged his tormentors at school. They all get roped into the unfolding carnage when the heist gets underway.
Playing a character in a permanent grump as he comes to terms with the idea of not being able to beat up strangers anymore, Cage looks his age and ambles his way through a role largely built upon the complex character arc of learning to love and appreciate cell phone cameras. Other characters speak of him in the most cliched fashion possible (“Cops like him don’t retire!”) but at least gets to have one show-stopping, unwittingly hilarious Cageian shouty outburst: “He has a. BABY. ON. THE. WAY!!!
Everybody else is awful, though the whole cast is shackled (in a film by York Shackleton!!) with sub-soap opera dialogue in drab cutaways crudely interrupting any suspense that may have been generated by the listless shootouts and feeble digital explosions. Rainey Jr.’s concerned mom works as a nurse, so we get a pointless B story at the hospital where she works. A key character records a drippy goodbye video for his unborn child while he waits to die, even though we know he will pull through. Cage’s estranged daughter (Amanda Cerny) watches the dramatic events on TV but is still hung up on Dad’s handling of Mom’s terminal illness. This leads to a strong contender for Direlogue of the Year: “It WAS real! It was chemo and radiation and pain!”
Anyone with a functioning brain will justifiably feel insulted. Gee, Cletus, do ya think the persecuted black teenager will learn to trust white cops? Could a father-daughter reunion in the face of mortal danger be on the cards before the credits roll? If the film is titled “211” from the police code for “robbery in progress”, would Cage still make a sequel if “212” was code for “Group of Australian pensioners being anally violated by rampant squid”? In the time it took you to read this, how many more Nicolas Cage movies would have been released?
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