It has its silly moments, but anyone from Mobile would get a kick out of the Nicolas Cage vehicle “Rage” or, as it was known when they filmed it here, the vastly superior title, “Tokarev.” Almost every minute of the thing takes places somewhere recognizable, and, as I gave up on pointing out holes in the plot, I enjoyed pondering the possibilities of Mobile as a film location, which I didn’t properly appreciate until I saw how you could form our beloved burg to your own movie purposes.
First thing we see is the Museum of Mobile on Royal Street, transformed into the high school that Nicolas Cage’s daughter attends. Good idea. Soon, Cage and his daughter are whisking around our familiar streets, and later Cage is at a press conference attended by what I presume are some local extras, but I couldn’t pick anyone out, and even our own TV news trucks. This was a total one-stop shop for this movie.
In terms of the movie itself; the performances were not as preposterous as one might imagine. You see a movie with N. Cage called “Rage,” and you figure he’ll just scream the entire time, but that wasn’t the case. The actress playing his daughter was particularly good, and I was most excited to see Peter Stormare, AKA Uli, the Nihilist from “The Big Lebowski,” on hand to emote in a thick Russian accent.
The plot was pretty generic; Nicolas Cage is a former gangster hit man who is, inexplicably, allowed to walk away from the life 15 years before, and has reestablished himself as a legitimate business man with a sweet but sassy teenage daughter and a pretty young second wife, after his first wife dies of breast cancer, which we’re told is what drove him to become legit.
One dreadful night, his daughter goes missing, and everyone assumes that his violent past has caught up with him. At this point, the logic of the plot begins to falter, as Cage is begged by gangsters and policemen alike (Danny Glover is in it!) not to get involved. Spoiler alert: he gets involved.
I was left with lots of questions, mainly, why is everyone on the right and wrong side of the law so gentle with Nicolas Cage. I never found out why he alone was allowed to escape his gang activities, and why on earth didn’t Danny Glover arrest him. I kept thinking there was a big shocking secret about him, but I never found out what it was.
Meeting up repeatedly at The Garage, Cage and his two former gang cronies vow to stop at nothing to find out who kidnapped the daughter and get revenge and whatnot. These gang guys were the weakest link, acting-wise, in an otherwise decent turnout.
I suppose they were chosen for their action fighting chops, which were displayed in many scenes, as the trio makes their bloody rounds and Cage stabs a bunch of people, demanding but never getting answers. There’s even a shootout at The Garage! That almost never happens in real life, although you wouldn’t know it to look at the barstools, another value-added point for the “Rage” crew.
Overall, the greatest thrills for me were not from the story but from the setting, and it’s exciting to look at our town from another perspective. You might not appreciate how much character our downtown really has, or how artfully decrepit some of our old buildings can be. It was fun imagining Mobile as a different place altogether, and hopefully more filmmakers will give us a chance to do so again soon.