Also known as Rage, Nicolas Cage’s Tokarev is a revenge thriller that tries to emulate the b-movie success of Liam Neeson’s Taken but can’t escape a cliche-ridden script…
After a life of crime in his younger years, Paul Maguire, played by Nicolas Cage, now lives a charmed and ordinary life. Fully reformed from his old ways, he’s now a successful businessman, with a nice house, a lovely wife, Vanessa, and a wonderful daughter, Caitlin, who he dotes on. But all that is set to change when his daughter is kidnapped and killed. Devastated and guilt-stricken, Paul sets out on a mission to avenge his daughter’s death by any means necessary — partly at the Lady Macbeth-like urgings of Vanessa.
Now, it’s the kind of generic premise than can potentially produce B-movie gold, and from the look of the film, it’s like it’s desperate to be the “new” Taken. But, unfortunately, Taken is Citizen Kane in comparison to this. The problem is we’ve seen so many movies that have used this basic kidnap/payback thriller setup, with some success. Even Taken itself was a perfectly decent thriller, despite the fact it was comically stereotypical and that we never really knew who was driving the boat at the end.
But, in the case of Tokarev, it’s simply boring. The film is so full of clichés, generic-conventions and odd narrative choices that it can’t get out of its own way. Which is a shame, because deep down, the film has something to say about violence and the futility of vengeance and how that corrupts you, but that message gets drowned in wince-inducing lines and pointless outbursts of cruelty. Despite the fact that we’re meant to care and sympathise with these tortured antiheroes and feel the blights they’re going through, we just end up not caring. Within minutes of assembling his muscular entourage, for instance, Paul and his wingmen are questioning a junkie, who knows absolutely nothing, by torturing his girlfriend. Who’s supposed to be hero and villain here?
Nicolas Cage is an actor whose career has had its ups and downs, with the terrific Leaving Las Vegas at one end of the scale, and the terrible Wicker Man remake at the other. Then, in 2010, he made a career-comeback in both the outstanding Kick-Ass (my favourite film of all time) and Werner Herzog’s The Bad Lieutenant. Since then, he’s been relatively under-the-radar, until just recently in the excellent Joe by David Gordon Green in which we see Cage back to his best. However, with Tokarev, we’re right back to where we were when he did terrible films like Bangkok Dangerous and the Ghost Rider movies, because here, he’s so lifeless and looks almost like he’s out of his comfort zone, even when he typically goes crazy at times.
Poor Rachel Nichols, who basically plays Cage’s suffering wife. After being successful in TV shows like JJ Abrams’ Alias and the current sci-fi time-travel series Continuum, here she’s been given, what is essentially, a throwaway role. She’s by far the best thing in the film, but even she’s not very good. Both Peter Stormare and Danny Glover turn up for small parts, and they literally look like the kind of actors that turn up and await their pay cheque.
Overall, whilst it’s nowhere near as soul-crushingly terrible as McG’s recent abomination 3 Days To Kill, Tokarev is still depressingly dull, poorly made all-around, and is the rare Nicolas Cage action thriller that’s lacking enough energy to reach the “so bad it’s good” category.
Written by Ryan Pollard
Directed by: Paco Cabezas
Written by: Jim Agnew, Sean Keller
Starring: Nicolas Cage
Released: 2014 / Genre: Suspense/Thriller / Country: USA / IMDB