Sunday, December 28, 2014

Tokarev (2014) Review:

Working for the wrong side of business has never been easy to escape. This has been depicted through an abundance of films. Once you're in deep, getting out of the hole takes much more work than digging the hole itself. It's common sense and it is also a known fact that fighting with fire usually does not end the way anyone wants it too. But for this particular man, he seems to think otherwise. Paul Maguire (Nicolas Cage), once a criminal with strong connections who now tries to live as a reformed individual, discovers his daughter has been kidnapped and decides to round up his cohorts to take revenge. And like many other kidnapping movies, there are no rules that the main lead gives himself. The goal is to claim what is his by any means.

When that hair's out of place, know
that Nicolas Cage face!
Upon further analysis, there are only a few things that show this film had potential. Everything else wasn't used the correct way. First and foremost, writing isn't the sharpest here but it’s not the worst either. The story is very similar to other "people taking justice into their own hands" scenarios. Sean Keller and Jim Agnew, the writers to this production add very little to the genre. There is however one real highlight to this screenplay that was specifically written and that's what to remember when you decide to go down this dark path. The lesson is that you will never be safe and you should never get close to anyone. Plain and simple. If these rules are followed by the book, the only person you have to worry about is yourself.

Acting wise, Nicolas Cage isn't convincing as the lead. As a father, Cage comes off as one of the most unpleasant fathers to know. The way he addresses younger gentlemen about his daughter depicts him as deranged. As a reformed criminal, Cage doesn't act like a father who has a daughter in trouble. Cage acts more like a man with anger issues. Perhaps this was what he's was trying portray but audiences may not consider shouting matches rage; that's more like immaturity. There were scenes where he depicts more emotions than just grimaces and anger but those too do not seem genuine. They just don't look like tears of pain. Considering that Cage just got back on his feet with praiseworthy performances from films like The Frozen Ground (2013) and Joe (2014), it's disappointing to see these kinds of showings.

However, the supporting cast members are credible and more likable than Cage or the character that he plays. Even actors Aubrey Peeples (from Sharknado (2013)) and Max Fowler give more believable performances than Cage. Danny Glover plays a detective who shares apart of Mr. Maguire's past and tries to steer him in the right path. Rachel Nichols (Scarlett from G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)) plays Mrs. Maguire. Although she's not in the movie frequently throughout, her performance is decent. Playing Paul's old crew is Max Ryan, Michael McGrady and Peter Stormare. All of which have their own quirks and bugs about them that make them different. Pasha D. Lychnikoff as a Russian mob leader is also plausible considering is ethnic background.

Pasha D. Lychnikoff
As for the supporting fundamentals to this production, there's only one good-looking feature. That is the special effects. For the budget that it had, there are a number a shootouts that are shot in slow motion and most of it looks moderately presentable. For all that, this doesn't mean the action in which these scenes were put in slow-motion are executed with any originality. There's only one scene that may be new to some viewers, which involves a cinderblock. Everything else that happens are plain shootouts, shaky car chases and witless fight scenes that barely have an emotional impact on its viewers or plot. Andrzej Sekula's cinematography (the man behind Reservoir Dogs (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994) and American Psycho (2000)) is colorless and unappealing. Laurent Eyquem musical composition improves nothing either with only one or two tracks that jog any kind of intrigue. Eyquem's filmography is mostly in dramas and it shows because his action cues are very forgettable here. The crew tries but it's not pushing any new boundaries.

It's writing is for the most part very predictable except for one or two concepts,...which is what should've been used. Instead, viewers will see bland action, stark music, and Nicolas Cage looking uncomfortable as usual. The special effects seem decent and the supporting cast helps but not by a whole lot.

Points Earned --> 4:10

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