“bad guys” trying to kill our protagonist
There’s plenty of time to mull Nicolas Cage’s interesting career choices while watching his latest, the dreary and uninspired “Bangkok Dangerous.” It’s the kind of film that begs for multi-tasking because nothing of interest is happening onscreen. (More on Cage’s wildly unpredictable film career in a moment.)
But first, a comment on “Bangkok Dangerous”: Don’t waste your time or your money.
If this column had a “mission statement” it would be something like, “I see bad movies so you don’t have to.” Exhibit A: This remake. In its original 1999 Thai version, it was reportedly a tolerable “B” movie.
So why did the Pang brothers decide to do an American version? It’s anyone’s guess.
Cage portrays Joe, a hit man whose dispirited narrative is filled with clich?s like, “This is what I do,” and whose assignment in the titular city requires that he commit four separate assassinations. The story looked like it might go somewhere when Joe hooked up with a deaf-mute local girl (Charlie Young) who bandages his boo-boo at the pharmacy where she works. But it takes far more intelligence to write something interesting that doesn’t rely on dialogue. (A contrite, repetitive piano melody that plays every time the two meet doesn’t help matters.)
The storyline that involves Joe’s loyal sidekick (Shahkrit Yamnarm) as it morphs into a sort of “Karate Kid”-style subplot can only be described as bizarre. The final warehouse shootout confirms the film’s absolutely derivative nature wherein the dozens of “bad guys” trying to kill our protagonist can’t shoot worth a lick while Joe can’t miss. Ugh.
The film isn’t overtly heavy-handed in its violence, but it doesn’t provoke enough surprises to keep the mind from drifting-a poison pill for an action film.
Cage is a fine, experienced, and textured actor who continues to make below average films despite having won a best actor Oscar in 1996 (“Leaving Las Vegas”).
While occasionally selecting superb material that affirms his versatility-most notably 2002’s “Adaptation,” for which he was also Oscar nominated-many of his recent films fall far below his ability. See “Next,” “Ghost Rider,” “Lord of War” and “Gone in Sixty Seconds.” (“The Wicker Man,” was so oddly interesting he can be forgiven for that one.)
We’ve all had jobs we’ve taken out of necessity. But one of the spoils of being an Oscar winner would be the blessing of affording to be selective. But who’s going to turn down a $16 million paycheck, even if it is for “Snake Eyes?”
With a total budget of $40 million or so, it wasn’t the lucrative salary Cage was pursuing with his involvement in “Bangkok Dangerous.” He’s currently involved in no less than seven film projects set for release in 2009. Maybe he’s just a guy who can’t say “no.”
Rated R (for violence, language and some sexuality)