New Nicolas Cage Film is More VOD Filler Than VOD Thriller
Every month dozens of VOD thrillers flood rental platforms like iTunes and Amazon Video. Most of them are forgettable knock-offs of other, better films. Occasionally, the persistent viewer finds a diamond in the rough like 2017’s Sweet Virginia or Small Town Crime. Alas, 211, the new crime film starring Nicolas Cage from writer/director (York Alec Shackleton), is more a lump of coal than a diamond.
Filled with cliches and coincidences, the film is astonishingly generic. We have the old cop (Cage) partnered with the young cop who is married to the old cop’s daughter. Young cop finds out his wife is pregnant as he heads off to work. (Reckon the young cop is gonna get shot on duty?) Then we have the high school kid who is forced into a ride-along with Old Cop and Young Cop to avoid being expelled from school. (Wonder if the bank robbery will go down while the kid is riding along?)
In the opening scene of the film, four mercenaries stage an attack on an overseas construction site. They’ve been cheated out of their fee for a job, and they have come calling on the weasel who stiffed them. Before they gun the weasel down, he reveals that their fee is being held in a bank in Chestertown, Massachusetts. The weasel offers to get the money for them, but they tell him they’ll just do it “the hard way” because everyone would rather pull a bank job than accept a wire transfer. And as if that doesn’t make any sense, the mercenaries don’t seem to understand that every bank has money, and they don’t have to go to Chestertown if they simply want to rob a bank?
I’m not one to nitpick the plot of a mediocre movie to death, but when the entire premise makes zero sense, you’re not off to a promising start. 211 has an 83-minute run time (without the end credits), and Nicolas Cage utters his first line around the 21-minute mark. For the remaining sixty minutes, he fires his gun, growls a few lines and sleepwalks through his performance. I found myself counting costume changes and camera set-ups to see if his performance took longer than about three days to film. Anyone hoping that this is Cage’s comeback film will be sorely disappointed.
There are some competently staged shootouts surrounding the bank robbery, but those sequences are not enough to recommend the film. If you’re looking for a heist film from off the cinematic beaten path, check out Den of Thieves starring Gerard Butler. It’s a rip-off of Michael Mann’s Heat. But, at least it’s an entertaining rip-off.