TMN Movie Review: "Rage"


Rating: NR
Length: 92 minutes
Release Date: May 9, 2014
Directed by: Paco Cabezas
Genre: Action / Crime / Thriller

Nicolas Cage's latest film, "Rage," is designed to raise questions. Throughout the movie, viewers are led to question who perpetrated a crime and also consider whether people can truly change and if a violent path can be left behind. The film is not critically acclaimed, but it is not easily forgettable, either. Sunshine and roses do not take over in the end, though Cage's character does show grim acceptance of his fate.

Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage plays Paul Maguire, a man with one doozy of a past. Formerly a violent criminal, Maguire and his partners successfully ambush a Russian mobster. Despite the fact that it is generally bad business sense to get on the wrong side of the Russian mob, the trio gets away with a huge haul of money and a Russian-made gun called a Tokarev.

The heist is so lucrative that, after a brief spell of lying low, Maguire is able to turn legitimate. He builds a construction empire in Alabama, marrying and fathering a daughter along the way. Maguire tantalizes the audience with the idea that people can, indeed, remake themselves.

Then disaster hits, and as human nature dictates, Maguire reverts to his violent ways. Maguire's daughter, Caitlin, disappears while he and his wife are at a charity event. Maguire does not act like a sensible parent. He does not leave the job to the proper authorities – in this case, the very respectable Danny Glover playing Detective St. John. Instead, Maguire indulges in what many parents in similar situations wish they could – the rage of the film's title. Director Paco Cabezas and writers Jim Agnew and Sean Keller surmise that what stops most parents of kidnapped children from turning vigilante is that they have neither the disposition nor the resources to do so. Former criminal Paul Maguire has both, though.

The majority of the film's action centers on Maguire and his old cronies going after the Russian mobsters that he believe have taken Caitlin. Maguire might be suffering a hint of guilt for having robbed the Russians in the first place, and Caitlin's friends corroborate the theory. According to them, a pack of Russian men barged into the Maguire home and kidnapped her.

The film formerly went under the moniker "Tokarev," the fictitious name of a Russian-produced gun. This is noteworthy, and viewers would do well to keep the gun in mind while watching the film. It is, in fact, an honorary actor.

It's also noteworthy that many critics are not big fans of the movie. There are a lot of action scenes, and there are many scenes in which Maguire mopes around, worried about his daughter. There is also a bizarre but hilarious moment in which Maguire weeps hysterically in front of hardened criminals.

The film is meant to be a study both of the messiness of starting over and the helplessness associated with parenting a teenager. At one point, Maguire gives a teenage boy advice on how to pick up his own daughter. It is as if Maguire cannot remember that he is no longer a jaded criminal but the parent of an adolescent girl. Many viewers can relate to the shocking realization that they are no longer the hip and dangerous ones. Maguire, of course, is still dangerous. In his rage, he allows the audience to live vicariously through his actions.

"Rage" is a Nicolas Cage vehicle, as his action films usually are. Cage fans love his unusual phrasing and his compellingly weird facial expressions, and the film offers plenty of both. Indeed, if any actor could pull off such an implausible plot, it is Cage. His best scenes are the ones in which he seems to have totally lost control. Take, for instance, the scene in which he's interrogating a dead mobster by slamming his head into the ground and shooting him. It is over the top – but the film's title is "Rage," so viewers should not expect all-sanity, all the time.

"Rage" is a kitschy film in the style of those that are so bad they are actually good. The actors alone make the film worth viewing. Besides the cult favorite Nicolas Cage, Danny Glover brings his "Lethal Weapon" chops to his scenes. Rachel Nichols of "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" plays Vanessa Maguire, the wife who both spurs her husband on and laments the monster she thinks she has unleashed. Peter Stormare is Maguire's one-time accomplice, and he seems to camp up his villain role from his wheelchair. "Rage" is a thrill ride; expect no mercy.