Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Dying of the Light (Movie Review)

By Freda Cooper 03.01.2015 7

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Dying of the Light (Movie Review)

Dying of the Light (UK Rating: 18)

With a collaborator like Martin Scorsese, writer/director Paul Schrader looked to have it made. However, after the likes of Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and American Gigolo, the only way seemed to be down. Sadly, the back story for his latest, Dying of the Light, looks like being more interesting than the film itself. With the movie now on general release around the UK and available on demand, Lights, Camera, Action! takes a look to see if readers should bother tracking it down before it fades away completely.

Is there a hint of prophesy in Dying of the Light's title? The Dylan Thomas reference is all too obvious but, over recent years, Paul Schrader's films have only shown flashes of the talent that roared onto the screen in the late '70s and early '80s. He seems to have lost his touch and, in a literal sense, that's what's happened with this film.

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Dying of the Light (Movie Review)

Schrader was both writer and director but, once filming was over, the production company took the film right out of his hands, so the version in cinemas is the studio cut. It goes without saying that Schrader was none too happy with the situation - nor was star Nicolas Cage or Nicolas Winding Refn, executive producer and one-time intended director. As they had signed a non-disparagement clause in their contracts, though, the most they could do was protest by being photographed wearing "non-disparagement" T-shirts. Thankfully, Lights, Camera, Action! isn't restricted in the same way.

Experienced CIA field agent, Evan Lake (Nicolas Cage) has been confined to a desk job he hates for some years after a traumatic experience. In that time, he's become obsessed with finding the man that tortured him, even though the official version is that he was killed. On the day that he hears his nemesis may actually be alive, he's also diagnosed with a form of dementia, which results in his compulsory retirement. However, he has other ideas and teams up with young colleague, Milt (Anton Yelchin), to track down his old enemy, wherever he happens to be.


 
It's almost impossible to tell what the film would have been like had Schrader been allowed to finish it in his own way, but it couldn't have been much worse, because this superficial piece of post 9-11 paranoia is enough to give anybody a headache. Literally. The acting is way, way over the top, with Cage leading the way and the rest of the cast seemingly following suit. Incongruously, for somebody suffering from a debilitating illness, he also insists on racing around and engaging in fights like a B-movie Liam Neeson.

Also, for supposedly professional agents, he and his younger sidekick are pretty inept when it comes to tailing their targets. Strangely enough, one of them spots he's being watched: it might have something to do with the fact that the pair are both so obviously staring at him. It's either that or Cage's ludicrously big astrakhan wool hat.

The dialogue fairly clunks along as well. When Cage interrupts a meeting being held by his CIA boss, his opening gambit is, "Sorry to impose on our relationship." Eh? Who on Earth speaks like that in the first place? Any intentions of examining such themes as the post 9-11 war on terror and patriotism are reduced to black and white gung-ho tub-thumbing - but it's an empty tub, because it all sounds very hollow, and the use of dementia as what is essentially a plot device is just downright tasteless.

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Dying of the Light (Movie Review)

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

Unless Schrader is released from his contractual obligations, which looks highly unlikely, nobody will ever know how the director's version of Dying of the Light could have turned out. As it stands, it misses every mark by a mile. At one point in the film, Cage declares that he's "gonna do something worth remembering." If that was the intention, then everybody involved in the film will have to keep trying. It's not even memorably bad.

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Comments

Left Behind wasn't fantastic either... and have you seen the trailer for Outcast? I am struggling to remember the last really good Nic Cage movie I saw, which is a shame as he was always one of my favourite actors - great movie after great movie.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Try Joe, an indie movie directed by David Gordon Green and released last summer.  It's available on DVD. Cage is rather good and it's a reminder that he genuinely can act.  Unfortunately, since then, it's been "as you were" ......

Wow, I'd not even heard of that one! Thanks for the recommendation. He really does churn them out...

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Nic Cage has done more than his fair share of stinkers but I must admit I did quite enjoy 'Bad Lieutenant' far more than I thought I would. In fact I think re-watch is long over due

However to this day 'Bangkok Dangerous' remains one of the only films I had to turn off after 10 minutes

Other way round for me - really didn't like Bad Lieutenant, but thought Bangkok Dangerous was fun! I'm also looking forward to National Treasure 3, though, so it says a lot about my taste in movies Smilie

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

I believe we've both been stung by Ghost Rider Smilie

I thought 2 might be better than 1, but sadly not Smilie I think there's going to be a third...but not with Nic Cage. I'm still waiting for Con Air 2!

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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