Tokarev aka Rage (2014)

(On Cable TV, September 2015) Nicolas Cage plays in a lot of movies these days, but their quality and satisfaction aren’t always guaranteed.  In Tokarev, the problem is as much conceptual as one of execution: For a film designed to question the idea and the easy thrill of pure vengeance, it’s handled in a fairly pedestrian manner, with a terrible event a few minute in that never allows the viewer to relax into even the superficial entertainment of a story well-told.  The protagonist repeatedly ignores warnings sent his way to abandon his path of vengeance and the conclusion is merciless in showing the futility of his misguided quest.  Unfortunately, what could have been a role ripe for the kind of Cage lunacy (or rather; Nouveau Shamanic) that we’ve come to enjoy from him even in terrible films turns into a sedate and restrained performance, but one that is in no means justified by the rather mediocre fil surrounding him.  (Compare to The Frozen Ground or Dying of the Light, where the restraint actually meant something in-context.)  Otherwise, there really isn’t much to say about Tokarev: it unspools, feels a bit lacking, does pack an unpleasant punch of a conclusion but it’s not really the kind of film to sit back and enjoy.  It seems so determined to make a point that it doesn’t seem to be concerned about making the journey worth undertaking.  While Tokarev may be a good counter-point to a lot of revenge-driven films, it’s not very well-served by its development.  File this one on the bottom shelf of the Cage filmography.

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