Jason Cabell’s Running With The Devil might not be perfect, but at least it attempts to do something new with the oft-told tale of drugs moving across the Mexico/US border. Nicolas Cage and Laurence Fisburne top-line this energetic thriller and while its no Traffic, it certainly doesn’t bore or outstay its welcome.
Cage plays a quality control expert who is called in when it transpires that top-grade cocaine is getting cut down somewhere along the supply chain. It transpires that Fisburne’s dealer is the culprit, because he’s been dipping his hand in the cookie jar and sampling too much of his own product. The whole film plays out as Cage follows the drugs to make sure that high quality coke arrives and leaves each stage of the chain.
A film littered by morally corrupt characters, Running With The Devil isn’t a preachy piece of filmmaking, it’s a slick thriller which is propelled with a similar type of energy which Oliver Stone made his own in the 1980s and 1990s. It’s an ensemble piece which is anchored by Cage and Fishburne featuring an impressive line-up of supporting actors who all do solid work: Barry Pepper, Cole Hauser, Leslie Bibb, Clifton Collins Jr. and Adam Goldberg. Cage keeps things controlled and it’s actually Laurence Fisburne who delivers Running With The Devil’s broadest performance.
Director Jason Cabell has crafted a film with some impressive visual flourishes and credit goes to cinematographer Cory Geryak and editor Jordan Goldman who make the film look much bigger than its modest budget. Meanwhile German composer Reinhold Heil adds a Hans Zimmer style touch to the soundtrack. However, Running With The Devil isn’t without its faults. There’s a lot of meandering in Leslie Bibb’s plot-thread as the DEA agent trailing the drug dealers and this has a few too many incredulous moments. Also, the decision not to give any of the film’s characters names feels just a little too clever for its own good.
Let’s face it, you don’t really have to search too hard to discover a Nicolas Cage film which you haven’t seen (it feels like there’s a new one every week). The quality of these Cage flicks fluctuates at a rather alarming rate but Running With The Devil is one of the better ones. It probably won’t get the cult following of most Nicolas Cage vehicles due to the actor’s restrained performance but don’t let kitsch-hipster posing get in the way of a good movie.