‘Rage’ Would Be Better As Dark Comedy Than Serious Film

by Brett Steinbrink on August 12, 2014

in Blu-ray/DVD Reviews,Reviews

[Rock Fist Way Down]

What do you get when you combine the convoluted plot of a movie you’ve probably already seen with one of the most hilariously enigmatic actors of our time? If you guessed Rage out August 12th on DVD and Blu-Ray starring Hollywood-oddity Nicolas Cage, you probably guessed right. Rage is a lot like Taken… minus everything that made Taken bearable, such as commitment to visual style, a sense of urgency, and competent writing.

Criminal-turned-respectable-businessman Paul Maguire (Cage) is interrupted on a night out with his wife at an important dinner, when he’s informed of a situation at home, where he has left his teenage daughter with a couple of friends. Paul returns home to find his daughter missing, and her two friends visibly shaken. Police detective St. John (Danny Glover) urges Paul to relax and let his policemen do their job, but instead Paul rounds up his old crime buddies and springs for a bit of vigilante-flavored justice instead. So naturally that means he goes shooting every (stereotypical) Russian mobster he can get his hands on. Paul’s wife fears that he may never have stopped being the violent man he once was.

Directed by the inexperienced Paco Cabezas, Rage is a movie chock full of incoherency.  The script, written by Jim Agnew  and Sean Keller is just a mess. Paul’s wife, despite the fact that she should probably not have the leading role in the film based on its premise, seems to be an afterthought most of the time. The story is so loaded with tropes it could be an entire page of links of TVTropes.com, and one of the most unsatisfying endings I’ve ever seen in any film. Ever. Not to say the ending doesn’t make sense, but it doesn’t logically follow what the film is about, and makes literally every single action that Paul takes throughout the film completely pointless.

Now, it might be a bit unfair to compare Rage to Taken, but they operate on essentially the same premise, and were released within six years of each other, so I’m going to, for just a second. Part of what makes Taken a good film is its sense of urgency which I touched on earlier. This is non-existent in Rage. The score is blah, and the writing changes gears so many times between melodrama and gunplay that you’re not really sure what’s going on. Rage can’t seem to decide if it’s supposed to be an action movie or a drama, and unfortunately it does neither well.

Visually, Rage is a trainwreck. Between irritating and sometimes-out-of-context flashbacks in slow motion and more shaky cam than Michael J. Fox shooting a home movie (which I would actually much prefer to watch), at best Rage can be sometimes difficult to follow the action and at worst downright unwatchable. While Cabezas can be said to commit to style in the flashbacks, thankfully he does not commit to the shaky cam until the third act of the film.

The final visual “style” aspect of Rage is the fact that any and all scenes are an opportunity to do a pretty-creepy slow-zooming close-up of Cage’s face. It often doesn’t do anything to draw emphasis to the scene, and though I enjoy seeing the glorious face of our One True God, it really pulls the viewer out of the world of the film and leaves you wondering what the whole point of that shot was.

I can see how a film like Rage could actually be easily rewritten into a dark comedy or a satire of revenge flicks, because all the pieces are in place aside from tone. Hell, even the ending lends itself well to the concept! This film has everything from badly-choreographed fist-fights to insane overkill of a villain, and even includes a pointlessly gratuitous torture scene. Special bonus if you noticed a car get t-boned and instead of causing a dent like any other accident, exploding in a huge fireball.

For an actor as divisive as Nic Cage, it’s easy to dismiss any film of his immediately, especially if that film has him doing a bad impression of Liam Neeson and trying to be a wildly out of character action hero. While that’s a pretty ignorant thing to do, in the case of Rage, it’s not necessarily a bad idea, either.

I had a bunch of jokes lined up about “Cage Rage,” but at this point… I think I’ll spare you.

Brett is a recent graduate of the University of Kansas, with dual degrees in Film & Media Studies and History. He enjoys watching sports, playing video games, and watching too many movies/television programs. If you’re looking for someone to quote “Friends” at you, give you a detailed outline of Franco-American foreign relations during the 1790’s, or make a lame pun… he’s probably your go-to guy.


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