My review of the recently disowned Dying of the Light is over at Flickering Myth and appears below…
Nicolas Cage. Nicolas Cage screaming. Nicolas Cage screaming LOUDLY. AGAIN.
Given what has been made of the latest Cage-rage low budget effort in many quarters you could be forgiven for thinking this’ll be on a par with that The Wicker Man remake for overall- albeit hilarious- lameness.
In truth, it’s not quite as bad as all that. It’s just a bit weird really, with Schrader and the cast recently disowning the finished product and claiming something of a studio takeover from the creatives in control. They wore T-shirts. They were disgruntled! Surely something must have gone wrong in what could have been a classic?
Well, rather than awful, Dying of the Light is more a bit odd rather than anything else. The central story of a terrorist torturer Banir (Karim) and his victim (Cage) both succumbing to illness and varying levels of decrepitude is not in itself a bad idea. Varying levels of political conspiracy and obsessive personal ties could have been woven in together in a striking way. Could have.
Instead of that, we’re left with a movie with a few decent ideas but a whole that is roughly carved together and appears to be something of a showcase for the contrasting roles of writer and director. The writer of Raging Bull and Taxi Driver takes on both jobs on this picture, and it seems as though the whole process was somewhat troubled to say the least. There are jumps and cuts which are fumbled and a whole darker story of state sponsored terrorism that gets lost in the mix.
The easy thing to presume would be to suppose that Schrader is not a director, but that would be far too simplistic. This is someone who directed the classic American Gigolo back in 1980 for one thing, and is more than capable of rendering a story complete up on the screen.
However, this follow up to the Lindsay Lohan starring The Canyons is certainly no recovery to a recently stumbling career.
Anton Yelchin is admirably creepy as an ambitious and seemingly psychopathic agent, but the true horror is how his behaviour is left unstudied and uncommented upon. Almost as though a huge chunk of action had been lifted out of the film, his disturbed internal workings are left for the audience to ruminate upon, unaided by the film itself.
By that point even the most dye-hard in the wool Cage fans could well be flagging. Cage himself can still bring out the fireworks but it all seems a little try-hard and wholly at odds with the mournful tone created by the rest of the performers. In effect then, an ill-fitting curiosity.