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The Dying of Nicolas Cage’s Career

December 5, 2014


At this point, Nicolas Cage’s movie titles have become a running commentary on the state of his career. Left Behind. Outcast. And now The Dying of the Light. (You could throw in Stolen, Rage and The Frozen Ground, too.) His descent from Oscar-caliber actor (Leaving Las Vegas, Adaptation) and box-office superstar (Face/Off, The Rock) to direct-to-VOD punchline seems complete.

dying-of-the-lightDying seems an especially sad case, because it also marks the nadir of another onetime cinematic powerhouse, writer-director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, Affliction). True, Schrader has protested the final cut of the film being taken away from him by posting a photo of himself (as well as Cage, co-star Anton Yelchin, and exec producer Nicolas Winding Refn) wearing t-shirts featuring the language from the non-disparagement clause of his contract. But it’s hard to imagine how any amount of editing could redeem this standard-issue potboiler.

Cage stars as an aging CIA agent who’s suffering from an aggressive form of dementia but determined to take down the Osama Bin Laden-esque terrorist who tortured him 20 years earlier and has long been believed to be dead. Yelchin—who’s put to much better use in the upcoming rom-com 5 to 7—plays his protegee, who accompanies him on a mission to Kenya to track down his prey.

Cage chews the scenery, as is his wont, and not much happens until the final 10 minutes of this 94-minute (including 6 minutes of closing credits!) time-waster. Believe it or not, this is even less entertaining than Schrader’s last film, the Lindsay Lohan porn vehicle The Canyons. You’d never even know this was a Schrader film but for the line, “What in the name of Jesus Christ on the cross are you doing here?” (Among Schrader’s obsessions, aside from porn, is Christianity; he also wrote The Last Temptation of Christ.)

But that’s not even the screenplay’s worst line. I’d give that dishonor to “You’ve got your head so far up Obama’s ass, all you can see is shit!” That’s all I could see when I was watching this movie, which is why I rage, rage against the Dying of the Light

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