ReviewWriter: Casey LeeWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"Stolen", "Neon Flesh" & "Giallo"
Paul Maguire (Nicolas Cage) has made a good life for himself. Starting from the ground with his own construction company, Paul has built it into a respectable enterprise that has him shaking hands with the mayor and taking questions from the press in groundbreaking ceremonies. Sharing his self-made life is his young and new wife, Vanessa (Rachel Nichols), and 17-year-old daughter Caitlin (an outgrown Aubrey Peeples) who has started becoming a handful as she has started inviting boys into the home for 'drinks'. When Paul is interrupted during a shoulder-rubbing dinner by Detective St. John (Danny Glover), he is told that his daughter had been kidnapped by armed masked thugs from the family mansion. Caitlin is eventually found with a bullet to the head fired from a Tokarev TT-33 (a Soviet-made handgun), and Paul calls for help from his Irish 'brothers' Kane (Max Ryan) and Doherty (Michael McGraddy) to find who was responsible for this and why. Even if it means using the ways they had put behind them when they were still in the Irish mob.
While Jim Angnew and Sean Keller's screenplay sparks with a premise of letting bygones be bygones and the dangers of digging up ones best forgotten past, the flimsy narrative is carried out by an aimless direction from Paco Cabezas that shoots itself. Paul and crew rely too heavily on their lacking chemistry to tell us why they are falling back to their ruthless 'Irish' ways, but they are not allowed to speak of its motivation without slipping a vague exposition. What ultimately undermines the little gratification to be had from the crew's little rampage is an anti-climactic plot twist that tries to relay a weak and annoyingly preachy consequence of shoot first, asks questions later, that should have been given a violent resolution. Only because the wimpy reason that started it all fully deserves taking a Tokarev bullet in the face and two more after that, and it would have been more satisfying, just for the sake of it.
Andrzej Sekula's incoherent camerawork felt unpracticed and mainly distorts rather than distinguishes the visuals, whether in the odd-positioned shots when the trio is searching for leads on Caitlin's disappearance and death, or the jarring bearings in the only car chase scene. There are some scenes that are captured well though, particularly when the trio goes on their gang busts, but the ratio between good and bad comes out more of a minus than a plus.
"Tokarev" may feel like another 'pay-the-bills' outing for Nicolas Cage, but for once Cage is not to be faulted for its failures. It is either he is channeling an effort into his trademark swinging madness or is effortlessly mismatched with his supporting cast from Rachel Nichols's trophy wife, twitchy former Irish boss O'Connell (Peter Stormare), or the unsuspecting Mike (Max Fowler) who drains all the respect for his character and his performance even before the first vengeful round is fired until the last. Partners Kane (Max Ryan) and Doherty (Michael McGraddy) put up a lackluster performance in the face of their lead, but are redeemed with their own moments, particularly when a clean shaven Pasha Lychnikoff as Russian mob boss Chernov is drawn into Paul's buried secret.
Even when Cage shares a scene with the next best actor on set, a badly and sadly underused Danny Glover as Detective St. John who wants to make sure that Paul stays on the straight and narrow, the scene is shriveled out of any poignancy by the lack of direction, to be little more than two men forced to read lines from a painful script.
Pretentious is a word that should be rarely used in a fair review, but it is just too apt to be used for "Tokarev", whether it is applied to the visual style or the underlying written message. There are just better options in cinemas now than to spend your next 97 minutes with this. Cinema Online, 21 April 2014