a critiQal film review Bangkok Dangerous (2008)

  • DVD

Plot: While on assignment in Thailand, anonymous assassin Joe (Cage) lets his guard down and begins mentoring a young man (Yamnarm) - while at the same time beginning a romance with a young shop girl. On top of this new-found exposure, Joe discovers that his boss Surat has decided that having Joe alive isn't worth the risk.

900 words (Est. Reading Time 4m 30s)
  • ...this muddled mess of an assassin pic is a black mark on Nic Cage's career.

Nicolas Cage has got to be one of the most prolific actors out there at this time. Unfortunately for him, this is starting to hurt his career. While he’s had success with the recent National Treasure series, he’s doing so many movies that some are bound to be bombs – and recently, that statistic is starting to catch up with him. Whether it’s his badly panned turn in or the under-appreciated , critics are starting to wholeheartedly bash on him no matter what film role he chooses.

While we don’t always agree with our fellow critics, we are starting to get a little wary when it comes to Nic. Because of that, his newest film, Bangkok Dangerous – where he seems oddly miscast as an assassin in China – wasn’t high on our list of films to see in theaters, so we were easily contented with waiting for it to arrive on DVD.

Would Nic be able to push aside our dubiousness with his latest film, or is this just another example of proliferation = poorer choices?

Part of the critic-bashing Nic has received lately seems to stem from his willingness to take on risky projects. While some of his films () fail spectacularly, other films viewers wouldn’t expect to see Nic in () turn out much better than expected. Sure, he occasionally falls back on big-adventure can’t-fail adventures like , but mostly he’s pushing the boundaries of his acting repertoire, and we have to give him kudos for that, even if we can’t always support his decisions.

In his latest, Bangkok Dangerous, he takes on another role viewers wouldn’t expect him in – an assassin. With a perpetual boyish innocence etched across his features, Nic seems better suited to play the good guy, rather than a rather morally-tainted assassin. And in China, he seems even more out of place, a fresh-faced American who, most viewers feel, would be easily spotted and stopped by local authorities.

Unfortunately, Nic is just too far out of his element on this one, relying more on a longer, shaggier do to showcase his deadlier assassin persona than any real effort on his part. It’s as if he’s starting to feel run down and not trying as hard. Maybe the film sounded better in concept than when he was actually filming. Whatever the case, he doesn’t put his best effort into this assassin, and the movie suffers from it.

That being said, the rather pathetic concept of the film doesn’t really give Nic a whole lot to work with, either. Instead of just being an assassin pic – the typical one now being an assassin who balks at an assignment that crosses their much-lower moral standards – the film tries to bring in an assassin-in-training subplot as well as a rather convoluted love story with a deaf Chinese girl. Instead of bringing depth to Nic’s assassin character, these subplots just further confuse the rather vague concept of the film even more, and turns the film into a confusing mass of unwatchability.

Some of the action sequences do try to re-ignite viewer interest in the film, but they are but brief shining lights in this murk – and even they aren’t without their faults. While a riverboat sequence seems good on paper, the director drags it on a bit too much, causing viewers to wonder why there are no police in Bangkok, as they never appear despite a long, drawn-out gun battle amongst multitudes of witnesses.

And then there’s the climactic final battle, the one the viewer could see coming from miles away – if they had still been paying attention by that point in the film. Ridiculously cliched from moment one, this action sequence further serves to bring the viewer’s wrath down upon the film, even as Nic’s character wreaks his vengeance amongst the big baddies. Despite the explosions and furious gun battles, this final sequence further showcases how un-original Bangkok Dangerous really is.

What started out as having at least a little chance of becoming interesting has turned into a cliched gunfight between the “hero” and a multitude of faceless villains. Unfortunately, the film forgets that in order to make the viewer overlook the utter implausibility of this sequence is to get the viewer to really care about the fate of the so-called “hero”. Because of that lack of interest, the viewer may even start to chuckle at the ridiculousness of the scenes playing out – that is, when they aren’t checking their watch, waiting for the movie to end.

All in all, while we appreciate Nic trying to expand the roles he takes on, we can’t support his choice in Bangkok Dangerous. It’s good he’s trying to push himself as an actor by taking on roles viewers may not expect him in, but with choices like this, many may wonder if it’s just about the money rather than any loftier ideals. With how bad the film turned out, one would expect that it couldn’t have really been that much better on paper – so is Nic even reading some of these scripts, or is he just signing for a paycheck? Maybe his next film, , will restore some of our confidence that Nic isn’t in it just for a paycheck.

In the meantime, if you’re in the mood for an assassin pic, forget all about the abysmal Bangkok Dangerous, and pick up instead. You’ll be a lot better off.

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