Directed by Paco Cabezas, 2014's Rage, written by Jim Agnew and Sean Keller (the guys behind Dario Argento's Giallo), sees Nicholas Cage playing a man named Paul Maguire. Like a lot of people in movies with titles like Rage, Paul has a past, one that he's not all that proud of. See, he was once a very violent criminal, a bad man, the kind who hurt people. That's all behind him now, however, as he's living life on the straight and narrow and trying to be the best dad that he can be for his daughter Caitlin (Aubrey Peebles) and the best husband that he can be to foxy wife Vanessa (Rachel Nichols). Things seem pretty balanced for the guy until late one night he's old by a cop named Peter St. John (Danny Glover) that Caitlin has been kidnapped, snatched from their home where just a short while ago she and two boys where hanging out.
Caitlin's friends talk about the scene and note that it was basically an armed invasion and he almost immediately takes it upon himself to hit the streets and get his daughter back. Sooner rather than later, Caitlin is found dead and Paul decides that this must have ties to his past, likely to some Russian mobsters he was once involved with. From here on out, Paul is driven by one thing and one thing only: bloody revenge. And if he has to maim and torture and kill to get it, he's completely okay with that and his two pals from back in the bad old days, Kane (Max Ryan) and Danny (Michael McGrady), aren't going to argue with him.
Let there be no doubt that Rage feels awfully familiar in a lot of ways. While most are immediately going to think Taken (which is fair), there's just as much of A History Of Violence working its way into this picture as well. While the script, which is riddled with a lot of action movie clichés, never approaches the depth or blistering levels of intensity that Cronenberg's critically loved picture does, the whole ‘sins of the past/you can't teach an old dog new tricks' motif it explored is definitely a big part of what drives this movie. Too big, really, because despite a few twists (and admittedly there's one in particular that not only works quite well but which is a genuinely clever surprise) this one doesn't do enough to set itself apart from the pack.
Having said that, the movie isn't terrible, in fact, it's decent enough if completely disposable entertainment. Cage doesn't bother with the ultra-twitchy over the top style he's used to embarrass himself in a few of his more recent clunkers and instead delivers a more subtle performance than some will likely associate with him. He handles himself well in the action scenes and plays the angry, revenge driven middle aged man well enough. He's got a street thug style here and it fits the character. He doesn't really give us enough in the way of emotional turmoil to really tug at our heart strings or play to our sympathies but that lies at the fault of the writer rather than the actor. While there are a few spots where he freaks out and does the whole ‘Nicholas Cage' thing it isn't really on the level here that some of his more notorious outings deliver. Rachel Nichols is fine in her supporting role and Glover, while underused and really not all that well fleshed out in terms of his character, is also fine.
But again, none of this really makes the movie stand out. Action fans, particularly those of us with a strange affinity for straight to video entries starring actors past their ‘best before' date, will likely enjoy it more than those looking for more serious drama. Rage offers some violence and some tension but fails to provide interesting characters or any lasting impression. Disposable entertainment is still entertainment and it works on that level, just don't expect anything more than that.
Rage arrives on Blu-ray in 2.35.1 widescreen in a very nice AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer. Shot on high end digital video the image is pretty much pristine and obviously there are no issues with heavy grain or print damage, dirt or debris. Color reproduction is very strong here, bold colors like red look really good without ever being oversaturated. Black levels are also strong, nice and deep and free of any heavy crush. This movie has been tinkered with in post a fair bit so there are obvious color shifts but they're supposed to be there. Detail is typically very strong here, in close ups and long distance/medium shots as well, while texture is also pretty solid. You get the impression that this is how the movie is ‘supposed to look' and the Blu-ray picture quality on this disc leaves little room for complaint.
The sole audio option on the disc is an English DTS-HD 5.1 track, there are no alternate language options but subtitles are provided in English SDH and Spanish. As you'd expect for an action movie this recent, the mix is a pretty engaging one. The more intense scenes, like the chase sequences for example, really benefit and feature some great directional effects while dialogue stays clean, clear and easily discernable. There are no problems at all with even a trace of hiss or distortion while depth and clarity are quite good as well. The score also features good range and depth.
Extras are on the light side here but we do get a Making Of Rage featurette made up of three very brief segments available to watch on their own or by way of a ‘play all' option. The three parts are Behind Rage, Directing Rage and Nicholas Cage In Rage and they run one and a half to two minutes each. As such, they're not all that in-depth but we do get some cast and crew interviews and some behind the scenes footage here. Also on the disc are five Deleted Scenes including an alternate opening scene. There's about fifteen minutes worth of material in this section (there is time code on the deleted material). We don't get a trailer for the feature but we do get trailers for a few other Image properties as well as menus and chapter selection. As this is a combo pack release the Blu-ray case also includes a DVD disc with identical extra features on it.
Rage doesn't do quite enough to set it apart from the action movie pack but that doesn't mean it's not an entertaining thriller with a few decent twists. Cage's performance here is not horrible, he takes a more subtle approach to things than he has in some of his more manic roles despite a few moments where he comes close to going over the top. The supporting players all do fine work but don't stand out. There is, however, some moments of good tension and the movie definitely entertains. The Blu-ray release from Image isn't stacked with extras but it looks good and sounds good. It's hard to say if this is something that you'll watch over and over again but it's an easy choice for a rental if you're in the mood for something brainless and violent.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.