Nicolas Cage has had a tough couple of years. He went from a bankable box office star to something of a punch line due to his erratic movie choices. In all fairness, Cage’s choices stem from his much publicised money troubles, meaning that the Oscar-winning actor had to take a lot of parts to pay off debts. To give him his credit, he always commits as an actor and while his choices may be erratic, there’s often a braveness in the scripts he selects. Tokarev (also known as Rage in some areas) is a good example of this. On the surface it appears to be another Taken-esqe thriller but the film raises a lot of interesting ideas and it includes a decent turn by Cage, who could have just phoned-in a disinterested performance. Unfortunately though, the film is let down by the direction and the poor acting by much of the supporting cast.
Cage plays Paul Maguire, a former criminal gone straight. He now runs a successful business, but when his daughter is kidnapped and murdered (using a Tokarev, a Russian made pistol) he fears that his past life has now caught up with him. Maguire returns to a life of violence, dredging-up the past and upsetting many former colleagues and enemies in the process.
The failure of Tokarev as a piece of entertainment lies with director Paco Cabezas. He’s not a natural filmmaker (or even a competent one), ooting the film in a visually flat way and he totally mishandles the action sequences – the cardinal sin for making an action thriller. This leaves Cage stranded in acting limbo; he brought the goods but Cabezas didn’t live-up to this side of the bargain. It is this which gives Tokarev that straight-to-DVD quality. Special mention must also go to the usual reliable Peter Stormare. The Swedish actor delivers what must be the most bizarre Irish accent ever committed to film. When I say it’s bad, I mean it’s off the chart.
If you go into Tokarev with low expectations then you’ll probably be surprised at how much you enjoy it. It has a few unique ideas thrown in that make it seem more unique than a lot of thrillers in a similar vein. Cage gives a performance that is much better than the film deserves, as director Paco Cabezas takes a story that could have been engaging and makes it feel like a generic low budget actioner. Nicolas Cage deserves much better than this.
Deleted scenes and an alternate ending add a little extra value to this blu-ray. The ending is the best of the bunch, adding a slightly different focus to Tokarev’s finale.