VOD film review: Dying of the Light
Ivan Radford | On 10, Jan 2015Reading time: 2 mins
Director: Paul Schrader
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Anton Yelchin
Watch Dying of the Light online in the UK: Amazon Prime / TalkTalk TV / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / iTunes / Rakuten TV / Google Play
Much has been made of Dying of the Light, Nicolas Cage’s new film, which hit UK cinemas and VOD on the same day this month. What might on the surface appear to be a bog-standard spy thriller is, upon closer inspection, written and directed by none other than Paul Schrader. Upon even closer examination, though, the man behind Taxi Driver and Raging Bull has since disowned the movie altogether.
Nic Cage plays CIA veteran Evan Lake, who is being bumped slowly to the sidelines due to to age, an unhealthy obsession with a terrorist who once tortured him, and a worsening illness of the brain.
The doctor explains to him that he will suffer irrational mood swings, among other symptoms, on his way out. Nicolas Cage. Irrational mood swings. It may sound like the start of a cult favourite, but this is more quiet Cage than crazy Cage: hot on the heels of his nuanced performance in David Gordon Green’s fantastic Joe, Cage does losing his mind with straight-faced drama rather than hilarious outbursts. So when his nemesis – Banir – resurfaces, and he goes on a quest for revenge, what unfolds is an unexpectedly thoughtful confrontation between two senior enemies. Sadly, though, the result is just an anti-climax.
Delivering earnest speeches about the importance of values and the agency during times when their torch has run out of batteries, there are hints of something more than the bargain bin DVD formula – but they never quite materialise. Even with the support of a gruff yet naive Anton Yelchin, Schrader’s script phases between intriguing interrogation and uninspired foot chases. Trying to stay calm before getting distracted by plants, the vulnerable, grey-haired Cage elevates the piece but only just. Perhaps the director’s unblinkered vision would prove more arresting, with its planned use of colourful visuals to convey Evan’s deteriorating mental condition, but either way, Dying of the Light’s ideas fail to flicker into life. On the surface, it appears to be a bog-standard spy thriller is, upon closer inspection, written and directed by none other than Paul Schrader. Underneath that, though, is just a bog-standard spy thriller.
Dying of the Light is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.