Paul Maguire (Academy Award® winner Nicolas Cage, Leaving Las Vegas) is a respectable businessman and loving father living peaceful life…until his violent past comes back to haunt him. When his teenage daughter is taken from their home, Paul rounds up his old crew to help him find her…by any means necessary.His search for justice leads Paul down a dark and bloody path of revenge, betrayal and long buried secrets. Danny Glover (the Lethal Weapon films), Rachel Nichols (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) and Peter Stormare (Fargo) co-star in this heart-stopping thrill ride that shows no mercy.
Despite all his rage, he's still just Nicolas Cage. Earlier this year, you might have seen a trailer for a movie called 'Rage', formally known as 'Tokarev', that starred Nicolas Cage. From the trailer, it looked a bit similar to 'Taken', which starred Liam Neeson. But after watching 'Rage', I realized it bears no resemblance to the 2008 sleeper hit, other than the fact that a father is told that his daughter has been kidnapped. Unfortunately, 'Rage' was not given a wide release in theaters, but was made available on video-on-demand. Even there, it was met with negative reviews, but I disagree with those critics.
While 'Rage' won't win any awards, nor does it have the big blockbuster action scenes that we've seen Cage in before, this low budget crime thriller has a good story, great characters, and a honest performance from Cage that had me entertained from the start. I know we all expect Cage to flip out in his movies, and due to his recent money troubles, some would say he is taking any role to build his bank account back up. But with his recent movie 'Joe', and now this small film, you can see he is making his way back up the film ladder with terrific performances. By no means has he thrown in the towel or given up yet. He's just getting started again and I'm happy to watch him get back on top.
'Rage' focuses on a man named Paul Maguire (Cage), who is a family man with beautiful wife, Vanessa (Rachel Nichols), a smart teenage daughter, Caitlin (Aubrey Peeples), and a successful construction business in the South. Through some flashbacks, we see that Paul hasn't always led the American Dream lifestyle. In fact, his past was pretty violent as he was part of the Irish mafia run by Francis O'Connell (Peter Stormare). Paul and a few of this fellow mob friends, decided to make a big score against the rival Russian mob known as the Chernov family.
After Paul and his friends succeeded with their mission and money, Paul decided to leave the life of a gangster and go legit. Fast forward more than a decade later, he has his family, his successful business, and even though the local police know about his rowdy past, and harass him once in a while, they more or less let sleeping dogs lie and let him carry on with his normal lifestyle now. Even the big police detective Peter St. John (Danny Glover), allows Paul to his own devices, because he likes the guy. However, Paul and Vanessa's world comes shattering to the floor when Detective St. John interrupts their dinner and informs them that their daughter is missing.
Paul left his daughter Caitlin at home to study with her two best friends Evan (Jack Falahee) and Mike (Mac Fowler). The two boys tell Paul and the detectives that several masked men entered their home and forcibly took Caitlin, but not them. Thinking back to his past criminal acts, Paul believes this is in retaliation for something he did long ago. Not willing to wait for the police to do their work, he hooks up with a couple of former mafia guys and knocks down every door and takes out anyone who might know where his daughter might be.
What works so well here is Cage's performance. He doesn't over-sell it or go over-the-top insane. He is cool and calculated and plays it with a slow-burn. And it works perfectly. There are no slow-motion flying doves, or quick pans over the cityscape here. Just Paul, his fists, guns, and knives to settle the score. And we see Cage transform from a man who seems to have it all to a man who could lose everything.
At its core, this is a solid story with a good twist ending. With the small budget, the script moves into B-movie territory. But Cage and Glover sell it well. Spanish director Paco Cabezas does an excellent job showing the subtle nuances of Paul's psyche and in return, Cage delivers the goods. Does 'Rage' change the crime thriller genre? No, it doesn't, but it shows that Cage is putting all his effort in each role, no matter how low budget the film is, and I think audiences will take notice of this and find themselves not laughing at him, but applauding him once again. 'Rage' is definitely worth seeing.
'Rage' comes with an impressive 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The picture as a whole looks very realistic and never over-the-top, as this particular Nic Cage movie is meant to be a smaller-than-life type of action film, rather than the big blockbuster affairs he's often involved in. Though it was filmed on a Red camera, it still has a filmic quality to it, especially when things get down and dirty. The detail is sharp and vivid throughout, with well defined closeups that reveal facial stubble, wrinkles, and scars on the actor's faces.
The textures in the costumes also look nice. During the darker scenes, or when the film changes its color scheme, the detail goes a little bit softer, as if to tell us something is about to happen. The colors look great and natural at all times. This is not a particularly bright movie, considering its dark and moody premise, but the browns, the greens, and the reds all look great. The black levels are deep and inky, with no evidence of any crush, and the skin tones are always natural. There was no evidence of any banding, aliasing, or major video noise.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix that sounds very good. For being a low budget action movie that doesn't have the big bangs and loud roars of a Hollywood blockbuster, this audio mix does a great job. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow, with no instances of any cracks, pops, or hissing. The sound effects do pack a punch when they show up.
The vehicle chase in the third act of the movie uses the entire speaker system, with vehicles roaring by. Gunshots are loud and effective, while the ambient noises of people chattering, screams, and city noises all sound balanced and layered. The score by Laurent Eyquem is engaging, energetic, and always adds to the tone of the film. The LFE is great and the dynamic range is quite wide.
The Making of 'Rage' (HD, 5 mins.) - There are three short separate features here, or you can watch all with the Play All button. Here, the cast and crew discuss making the film, working together, and the themes of the movie. Unfortunately, so little time is devoted to this extra, we barely get anything of value out of the actors and director.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 15 mins.) - There are five deleted scenes in total, including an alternate opening and an alternate ending, along with an extended ending. The alternate ending and beginning are worth looking at to compare.
Trailers (HD, 6 mins.) - Trailers for other films.
'Rage' isn't nearly as good as 'Joe', nor is at as good as something like 'The Rock', but it certainly has its moments, and it's definitely not a movie you want to sweep under the rug and forget about. Sure, it doesn't have the money that some of the big blockbusters have, and it doesn't have an Oscar worthy script, but it's got heart and a decent story, and Cage does a damn fine job here. The video and audio presentations are both great, but I wish there were more to the extras. That being said, if you're a fan of Nicolas Cage and enjoy smart crime thrillers, then by all means get 'Rage'. Recommended!