UK Release Date: 23rd July 2018
Runtime: 87 minutes
Director: York Shackleton
Writer: York Shackleton, John Rebus
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Dwayne Cameron, Michael Rainey Jr, Ori Pfeffer, Sophie Skelton, Shari Watson, Alexandra Dinu
Synopsis: A pair of outgunned local police find themselves in a shootout with a team of highly-trained bank robbers mounting a sophisticated heist.
There are some people for whom the release of a crappy new Nicolas Cage thriller is cause for excitement. Many relish the prospect of seeing Cage yell a bit and fire a few guns en route to a pay cheque. The latest entry in that particular canon is 211, in which Cage portrays a cop on the verge of retirement, obviously, who becomes caught up in a high-powered bank heist, obviously. It’s very loosely based on one of the most violent and bloody police shootouts in American history, but it certainly lacks the punch of the real-life story.
Cage is Mike Chandler, who is on a routine patrol with his partner and son-in-law Steve (Dwayne Cameron). They have a bullied teenager (Michael Rainey Jr) on board as part of a ride along mandated by his principal when he’s caught fighting in the school bathroom. When they attempt to question a man parked in a red zone outside a bank, they unwittingly become part of a robbery being carried out by highly trained special ops men led by Tre (Ori Pfeffer). As the bullets start flying, Mike and Steve must hold the robbers off while they wait for back-up to arrive. Meanwhile, for reasons best known to the movie, there’s an Interpol agent (Alexandra Dinu) following it all.
There’s not a single moment of excitement in 211. Director York Shackleton has absolutely no control of the action set pieces and so it’s nearly impossible to track the locations of the various characters or understand the logic of the decisions they make. As one man lies bleeding to death from a leg wound, another alternates at random between trying to get to his medical kit and standing upright and shooting at a target who may or may not be there. Temporal consistency proves irrelevant and there’s no sense of control or logic to anything that happens.
Outside of his action, there’s a steadfast adherence to blatant cliché at play. One of the central characters has a pregnant partner and there’s a telling shot of a mobile for the unborn kid’s cot, with police cars dangling from it, which couldn’t possibly be more on the nose. Another protagonist has a mother who works in a hospital, which allows the audience to see what’s going on with victims of the heist – and a restaurant explosion that the gang execute at the same time, for some reason. The movie is a mire of tropes, stereotypes and thriller narratives so conventional they are entirely unable to raise the pulse.
It’s only Cage who manages to bring any frisson of entertainment, and that only applies for those most devoted to his shtick. Much of 211 is devoted to him yelling at people while firing a pistol and there’s at least one moment in which he travels at least 80% of the way towards a proper Cage freakout. Considering the fountain of mad energy he found for the utterly dreadful Mom and Dad, he probably saw this one as a rather calming experience. For the audience, though, it’s just an exhausting one.
Nothing on the disc I had for review.
Pop or Poop?
A rather bored-looking Nicolas Cage is the only thing that’s even vaguely interesting about 211 – an entirely conventional and bland thriller that’s soundtracked by a nonsensically consistent chatter of bullets. The characters have nothing to them, the action is never exciting and the storytelling is so thoroughly illogical it could probably run the Brexit negotiations.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.
211 is available on DVD and VOD in the UK now courtesy of Lionsgate.