DYING OF THE LIGHT (2014)
Written and directed by Paul Schrader
DYING OF THE LIGHT is a crime drama thriller starring Nicolas Cage as the lead character, CIA agent Evan Lake. Opening scenes depict Lake’s torture by terrorist Banir before fast-forwarding 22 years after his extraction to present day. Make-up and extra weight are used to age Cage to create the battle-worn character of Evan Lake, a man who’s been through so much in his life. As an older gent, Cage has a hint of Frank Langella about him, though I must admit there are times when he looks younger than he’s supposed to. Anton Yelchin joins Cage as Milt, a young go-getter who respects Lake’s work and believes Lake’s theory that Banir (Alexander Karim) didn’t die during the rescue mission all those years ago. Forced to retire from the CIA due to his increasing violent outbursts forced by his newly discovered mental illness, Lake must go it alone without the backing of the CIA, albeit with a little help from Milt.
The structure of DYING OF THE LIGHT is a bit disjointed at times, moving from one scene to another too fast, breaking the tension which thrillers heavily rely on. This aspect, along with a weaker script and story than you would expect, leaves the movie in the light thriller genre rather than the gritty one. Despite this, the film is rather enjoyable and has enough on-screen action and plot to keep you watching to the end, with Nicolas Cage giving one of his better performances in recent times.
For action fans, there’s an opening car chase, the odd fight scene and gun fight though they are quite short and tame in comparison with other movies, but suit this film’s dramatic side. The plot, violence and action isn’t too heavy, leaving the viewer to enjoy the movie and unwind whilst still retaining the thriller edge.
In a controversial move, this version of the film seems to have been edited by persons other than the director which allegedly left the filmmaker, crew and cast more than a wee bit disgruntled, as you can no doubt imagine. This is probably the reason why the movie doesn’t always flow correctly or in a way you would expect. However, the result is not a bad movie. Instead, it’s actually an entertaining one, though through the footage it can be seen that the story and plan for the movie was much more than what was delivered in this cut. So instead of a slick thriller, you get a mediocre one that you can enjoy as a popcorn movie rather than a nail-biting, tension-laced one.
As a Saturday night beer movie, DYING OF THE LIGHT will hit the spot but won’t necessarily be one you’ll remember in days to come, other than Nicolas Cage’s performance.