directors: Alex Brewer & Benjamin Brewer
writers: Benjamin Brewer & Adam Hirsch
starring: Nicolas Cage, Elijah Wood and Sky Ferreira
genre: Crime | Thriller
released: 13 May 2016 (U.S.A.)
A decade ago we would have been taking about what a dynamic acting duo we have on screen in this gritty buddy cop film. Today no one bats an eye as its led by Mr. Washed Up and the forgotten Hobbit. Never mind that the film is actually good, that it has two very good actors and that there is a great mix of drama with an unexpected amount of dark humor that is perfect for its leading duo. However, out of sight, out of mind right?
Two cops minding their own business and doing their job to the best of their abilities have finally reached their boiling point of frustration. When a secret stash of drug dealing wealth comes to their attention they make it their goal to steal it and reap the benefits of turning into bad guys themselves. Not thinking what it might do their friendship and how far they are willing to eventually go.
While never being necessarily a fan of Nicolas Cage I did always admire and respect his work. With his characteristic outbursts and way of saying lines that made his films automatically more entertaining and colorful. Does he go overboard sometimes with his attitude and antics yes and could he keep it under wraps when he goes too far, sure! That’s why you need to either reel him in or not pick him to be your lead if he can’t work with the production for the betterment of the film. Thankfully, here he was the Nicholas Cage we do like and does showcase his best attributes. From calm character acting with the occasional Cage type mannerisms and typical shouting that do assist the film in being a little bit more than your typical and sentimental cop film.
With Cage is Elijah Wood that after the 'LOTR' films and similar to Daniel Radcliffe is game for anything that is proposed to him without much concern for his popularity or even if the film is something that will catch on and be profitable. Now, Wood is already a weird kind of actor in that he doesn’t have a very commanding voice so it may seem as if his acting is off kilter a lot of the time or if he is constantly anxious. Even though, he is a reasonable presence on screen and makes a good partner to Cage. So that kind of deer in the headlights look he usually gets in his films coincides greatly Cage's offbeat antics.
The biggest accomplishment that the film may give itself is that it took a fairly conventional good cop turned bad cop script and added good doses of black humor with the right leads to back it up. Nic Cage starts off in his role fairly quiet and with a sophistication as a officer of the law. But as the film progress you see that he is also kind of a goofball that can get easy laughs. With his partner Wood by his side, who only follows him because he really has nothing else to live for. The assumption of both of their motives comes from minor hints the film has. Such as Cage’s character’s father possibly having Alzheimer’s and Wood coming from a failed relationship. This maybe should have been a little bit more focused on as the jump they make from good cop to bad cop is a tiny bit sudden. However, too much backstory may had made the film a little too emotional and not as focused when it finally got to its heist scene towards the end of the film.
Still, the evil turn the characters make has many great moments to it, such as them coming at odds with how far they will take the given situation and if they really thought out their crime through to the very end. Putting tension to their partnership while also learning more about each other due to the series of events that occur.
Furthermore, the film is on a significantly low budget and this is noticeable from the lack of variety in the locations, action scenes, effects and also cinematography. Looking cheap and simply plain throughout the film. Without many shots looking gritty or vibrant as you might have hoped for. Maybe a “Collateral” type cinematography of digital low light cameras would have helped to create a better atmosphere for the film, but this is hoping for too much in a production that seemed to be meant mainly for direct to video market.
The ultimate reason you watch a film is due to the star power and the story or genre they are playing in. Cop dramas have always flooded the market especially the direct to video category and when they happen to be decent they are always a good pick to pass the time. Especially when Nicholas Cage is at his very best and is contrasted with the more subdued acting style of Elijah Wood.