24 February 2015

DVD Review - Dying of the Light (2014)


Genre:
Thriller
Distributor:
Signature Entertainment
Rating: 15
Director:
Paul Schrader
Cast:
Nicolas Cage, Anton Yelchin, Alexander Karim
Release: 2nd March 2015

Taxi Driver scriptwriter Paul Schrader wrote a spec script called Dying of the Light years ago. The Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn was set to direct it at one point, but he made the modern classic Drive instead. The film was stuck in development hell until 2013 when Schrader came aboard to direct his own script, and soon Nicolas Cage was set to star.

Cage plays Evan Lake a CIA agent who is suffering from a rare blood disease (which has syndromes of dementia) and is forced to retire. He decides to go rogue with a fellow agent Milton Schultz (Anton Yelchin) after he finds out his old nemesis, the terrorist Bahir (Alexander Karim), is still at large in Kenya.

The film is as flawed as humanly possible, it’s been edited to within an inch of it’s life, running at exactly 90 minutes. Schrader had a very deliberate colour scheme he wanted to use for the film, but it has been tampered with in the editing room and it shows. There are moments of visual stylization that is interesting, but how much of it is still Schrader’s vision or the producers trying to cover up is up for question.

Nicolas Cage has had one of the most fascinating careers of recent memory. Due to his notorious spending, he has been forced to do pretty much any script that falls in his lap. Sometimes it’s interesting art house stuff like Joe and Bad Lieutenant, or mostly, it’s absolutely awful stuff like Left Behind, yet Cage just keeps going on. This falls somewhere in the middle, it could have been an interesting art house thriller but the producers tried to make it a direct to DVD action film. Cage however, gives one of his most effective performances in recent memory, despite some over the top moments in the film’s third act.

It’s certainly a lot better than Paul Schrader’s previous film The Canyons, even though I'm sure the man himself would disagree.

★★★

Ian Schultz

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