Nicolas Cage has gained a reputation for playing all kinds of characters with all kinds of backgrounds with all types of personalities. These range of behaviors have covered the banal, to the deranged. Nicolas Cage knows no bounds when it comes to acting. People love and hate him for both his dramatic performances as well as his idiotic ones. During the early 2010's, Cage was on the border of his popularity. He was still getting cast into films that were guaranteed to get a larger release, yet he also signed onto films that got less notoriety. Only some of which were critically well received. Much of them on the other hand failed to make their money back or leave any kind of an impression. Of them though, one action film that kind of went under the radar that should have gotten more attention was this feature. There have been plenty of hard R action films that contained enough interesting characters and witty humor to keep things going. Yet the premise to this movie feels fresh in ways others have no shown in a while.
|"He uh....you look a little angry there...."|
Nicolas Cage plays John Milton, a dead man who escaped from the underworld to rescue his granddaughter from a satanic cult worshiper by the name of Jonah King (Billy Burke), who killed Milton's daughter. On his travels Milton gets the attention of Piper (Amber Heard), a wanderer looking for a purpose. All the while the devil's right hand man known as the accountant (William Fichtner) is looking to retrieve Milton and bring him back to where he belongs. Written by Todd Farmer and Patrick Lussier, the two seem to have taken what feel like a mix of different characters and made them into one. As an end result, the story is not the most unique, but it serves its purpose in creating likable characters. Patrick Lussier also directed the film, who has mainly served as an editor to other projects like Scream (1996) and two sequels after it. Todd Farmer has been more of a writer to movies like Jason X (2001) and My Bloody Valentine (2009). The real problems in the script are abrupt motivation changes and an unclear backstory.
Nicolas Cage as John Milton gives a familiar performance but nevertheless, the way the Milton character comes across is comical. So many lines are stated with such deadpan, it's hard not to laugh. So many things happen to Milton that he just rolls off, it becomes quite entertaining. William Fichtner as the accountant is another comical individual. The moments the accountant shares with other cast members is humorous just for the fact that nobody understands his purpose, which frustrates him. Also the fact that Amber Heard does not play a love interest to that of John Milton is a plus. Not every protagonist needs to have someone to fall in love with. As portrayed in the running time, Milton has no time for that. Billy Burke as Milton's enemy plays a fairly considerable opponent. He's not afraid to get his hands dirty and does not hesitate to kill. Burke is also known for playing in Lights Out (2016) and in the Twilight (2008) series. For supporting characters there are also appearances by several others.
These characters do not affect the plot in any real way, but they do bring some recognizable faces to the show. David Morse plays a friend of Milton by the name of Webster. His sarcasm is about an equal match to Milton's. Jack McGee has a small role as Fat Lou, the owner of a local diner. He has a funny exchange with the accountant. Also, Tom Atkins shows up to play the head of the police department. It's a role that only Atkins would easily fit in to. The action and special effects are well handled here too. The violence in this film vary with all kinds of sequences. Sometimes people are shot with guns, others are run over by vehicles and some suffer worse than that. Those kills are normally attributed to the accountant, since he is the most supernatural character in this story. The thing is, although it looks like he's having fun doing it, he comes across more inconvenienced. With these types of kills are the blood and gore, which looks pretty good. Gore fans should be well satisfied here if they want guts.
Working as the cinematographer to this project was Brian Pearson. For majority of the movie, Pearson's work was great looking. Hardly any of the action scenes involved shaky cam and much of it helped in the pacing of the experience. The lens used wasn't a wide angle but it was large enough to get the full scope of the surroundings. Pearson also worked on movies like The Fear: Resurrection (1999), Final Destination 5 (2011), Into the Storm (2014) and Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015). Topping things off however was the musical score composed by Michael Wandmacher. The film score has a unique mix of a hard rock guitar theme for Milton and a southern sound for Piper. There's also hints of horror cues that sound very close to typical stings. Being that Wandmacher also produced music for Punisher: War Zone (2008) and Piranha 3D (2010), it's no surprise this guy can combine both genres together with no problem. Thankfully a release of the score is available so anyone can listen because it is a lot of fun.
Points Earned --> 7:10