Dog Eat Dog review by Bobby Blakey
Nicholas Cage is one of those actors that is all over the place in regards to his work in both performance and release. For all intents and purposes he has shifted to a straight to home entertainment star as opposed to the box office giant he once was, but the films have been pretty hit and miss. His latest Dog Eat Dog teams him up with the always great Willem Dafoe and director Paul Schrader, but does it stand with his better films from such a unique director or will it be another that is clear to why it is going straight to the shelf?
Dog Eat Dog follows three men who are all out of prison and now have the task of adapting themselves to civilian life. Troy, an aloof mastermind, seeks an uncomplicated, clean life but cannot get away from his hatred for the system. Diesel is on the mob's payroll and his interest in his suburban home and his nagging wife is waning. The loose cannon of the trio, Mad Dog is possessed by true demons within, which lead him from one situation to the next. One more hit, one more jackpot, and they'll all be satisfied. Troy constructs the perfect crime and they pull it off, but in the aftermath, they keep finding the law surrounding them wherever they go. To say this film is a bit weird is an understatement. The beginning of the film alone is so strange that it threw me at first not understanding what the point of it all was. As the film progresses it becomes very clear to what it was trying to do which was how insane this character actually is. Once you get past this opening sequence the movie falls back into a more standard format and is actually pretty good. Cage is toned down from his overacting for most of the picture with Dafoe being the over the top standout. Cage does give one of his better performances in some time with moments of him fully channeling Humphrey Bogart that is laughably awesome.
The story itself is pretty simple and one that we have seen in different ways before, but the structure here makes it something a bit different. It is a bit all over the place at times and never seems to fully know what it wants to be, but has shining moments of greatness and strange moments of confusion. There are numerous times where the film shifts out of the caper focus which it should have stayed on as this is the best part of the film along with the friends interactions, but it seems to want to humanize these characters personally as well and this is where it just doesn’t fit. There is an entire section involving Diesel played by Christopher Matthew Cook that is really good showcasing a more personal side to his character, but just seems out of place in the overall film. It doesn’t really go anywhere as far as for this film and just felt like space filler that really added nothing to the direction of the film. Maybe it was trying to make you care more about the brute character for where the film was heading, but it just did nothing for me.
As a whole this is one of those films that will not work for a lot of people, but if you can invest in the insane nature of it all then it really does offer up a great take on the genre. There are some bleak dark bloody moments and mind trippy drug montages that make sure you know that you are not seeing a typical film all while delivering a decent crime drama. This is one you really need to see for yourself and just see where it takes you because it really is something different.