VOD film review: Dog Eat Dog
Ivan Radford | On 18, Nov 2016Reading time: 2 mins
Director: Paul Schrader
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Willem Dafoe
Watch Dog Eat Dog online in the UK: Amazon Prime / Curzon Home Cinema / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / TalkTalk TV / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
Nic Cage. Willem Dafoe. Paul Schrader. Dog Eat Dog sounds like a crime thriller fan’s dream, but the reality is closer to a nightmare.
Getting a day-and-date VOD release, the film follows three ex-cons determined to stay out of prison, a mission that they carry out by, naturally, committing crime. We first meet Mad Dog (Willem Dafoe), a man who returns to his ex-lover’s home and sits in a pink room surrounded by child’s toys, a ringing phone and a gun commercial on the telly. Before you think this might be a knowing commentary on gun culture, though, Dafoe’s already done something despicable and director Paul Schrader seems to be cheering him on.
He soon hooks up with beefcake, and former jail mate, Diesel (Christopher Matthew Cook), to welcome fellow former convict Troy (Nicolas Cage) into society. They hang around a strip club, mistreating women, being violent and congratulating each other on doing so. It’s hard to tell which one of them is more loathsome.
Liking a protagonist, of course, is not a prerequisite to liking a film, but Schrader’s outdated sexism, retro scuzziness and casual attitude to violence are far from endearing – and, arguably as worse, are far from original. Squatting somewhere between Tarantino, the Coen Bros and Schrader’s own back catalogue, it’s an attempt to do a dark crime comedy thriller that isn’t thrilling, funny and whose darkened depths have been probed many times before by better scripts.
The plot centres around a job offered to the trio by a local gangster: kidnap a baby, so they can claim some ransom money. The operation, of course, goes inevitably wrong – and, despite the movie’s desperate attempts to make you laugh with its sheer depravity, watching the chaos unfold is never enjoyable. Schrader creates some striking visuals, particularly when Dafoe’s Mad Dog is in drugs mode, but the cast and the unabashedly lurid visuals can’t redeem the foul tone. Even Nic Cage bordering on going over-the-top doesn’t make this worth watching. Dog Eat Dog is a dog’s dinner that leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
Dog Eat Dog is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.