Can an international hit man working one last assignment in Thailand leave his history of assassinations behind and find true love with a deaf drugstore clerk? Of course not. That’s all you really need to know about Bangkok Dangerous, a very loose American remake of the 1999 Thai thriller by its original directors, the Hong Kong-born siblings Danny and Oxide Pang. Nicolas Cage is in full-on sad-eyed killer mode as he glares out at the world from the middle of a wild, unwashed mullet, contemplating his professional disposition against meaningful human contact in sleepy voiceover. Once he takes a young street thug under his wing and starts wooing a pretty shop girl, it’s clear the hardened killer has gone soft. This is a dark film visually and thematically, with a bracingly downbeat climax. But it lacks narrative coherence or strong action scenes — only a rousing motorboat chase that has the city’s canals running red with blood halfway through the film leaves any impression. Unfortunately, the brothers’ stylish reputation doesn’t seem to have survived the journey stateside — counting this and last year’s forgettable horror outing The Messengers, the Pangs have made two of the most generic movies in recent memory. C-
If you were to review Brian De Palma’s Snake Eyes in just one word, it would have to be the sound of air being let out of a balloon: Pfffffffft. Continue reading
In Leaving Las Vegas, Nicolas Cage plays Benjamin, an alcoholic who’s lost his family and his job and moves to Las Vegas to quite deliberately drink himself to death over the course of four weeks’ time. While he’s there, he meets a hooker named Sera, played by Elisabeth Shue, who’s cast adrift, so to speak, when her boyfriend and pimp (Julian Sands) is finally murdered by the thugs he owes money to. Since these two are just about the neediest people on the planet, they immediately fall into a codependent relationship. Ben agrees to vacate his room at the $29-a-night Whole Year Inn (in an unusual moment of lucidity, Ben reads the sign as “the hole you’re in”) and move in with Sera on one condition — she can never ask him to stop drinking.