Paul Schrader has a hell of a pedigree: screenplays for Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, a director’s filmography that includes gems like American Gigolo and Mishima, and an occasional sideline as an erudite film historian.
But his career has languished in the doldrums of late, and his follow-up to The Canyons, his Lindsay Lohan–starring semi-succès de scandale, sees him coming a cropper. It’s an espionage thriller about a CIA man (Nicolas Cage) dashing from Bucharest to Mombasa in pursuit of the terrorist who tortured him years earlier. At one time mooted as a project for Drive man Nicolas Winding Refn, who now has an executive producer credit, the film was reportedly recut by its backers, with Schrader’s intended expressionistic colour scheme massaged down to a drab functionality.
It’s hard to imagine that the director’s approved version would have been that special, given the evidence of this inert affair, in which even Cage’s acting is less manic than usual (all things being relative, of course). What remains is by no means catastrophic, just solemn and inconclusive, with the darker psychological resonances (Cage’s character faces encroaching dementia) lost in a rather woolly mix
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