Director: Paul Schrader (2016) BBFC cert: 18
Nicolas Cage and Willem Dafoe play a pitiful pair of ex cons in this vicious crime thriller. A kidnapping job offers a big pay day but life for the dim crims goes south when the wrong guy gets shot.
An agitated colour scheme, fractured editing and spiralling camerawork create a paranoid bad trip of a mood. Cage’s droll delivery and riffs on Humphrey Bogart add black comic notes to the confidently trashy and nihilistic sleazefest.
Strippers, swearing, shoot outs, drugs and dead bodies feature heavily as the script skewers the myth of the heroic American outlaw.
Adapted by Matthew Wilder, it’s based on book by Edward Bunker, a real life jailbird turned novelist who played Mr Blue in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992).
Director Paul Schrader’s 1970s heyday saw him write the Martin Scorsese classics Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. He also directed the Richard Gere starring critique of Hollywood, American Gigolo (1980). This never hits those exalted heights but it suggest there’s life in the old dog yet.