My Take – It is a known fact that now days Nicholas Cage’s movies cant be trusted (Well even though I still watch almost anything he does), this film would not have come in notice if not the controversy behind the making. Apparently the director Paul Schrader, the writer of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull and director of American Gigolo, claimed that the film has been re-edited, re scored and remixed without his participation. While Schrader claimed he had been removed from the project against his will; the film’s producers stated that Schrader had quit because he disagreed with changes they wanted to make to his first cut. Things escalated further when Schrader posted photos of himself, Executive Producer Nicolas Winding Refn, and stars Nicolas Cage and Anton Yelchin wearing T-shirts bearing the non disparagement clause included in each of their contracts. This clause allows Lionsgate, the production company behind Dying of the Light, to sue if any of them make statements about the film that can be deemed derogatory, a clause that has prevented Schrader from speaking further about the film or his accusations. It’s a sad but familiar turn of events for Schrader, who similarly clashed with producers when making Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist.
Well as suspected this film is so awkwardly paced, so slight intellectually, and so dull as a political thriller that the effort wouldn’t do anybody any good. Even though the movie was about 90 minutes, it seemed really long. It dragged and dragged and dragged some more. I think the criminal here in the movie was the screenplay & the plot itself. The story follows Evan Lake (Cage), a CIA employee who, 22 years after being captured and tortured by a Muslim fundamentalist named Muhammad Banir (Alexander Karim), receives two pieces of life-altering news. First, a diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia from his doctor, who warns that Lake will soon begin experiencing mood swings and pronounced losses of focus, among other symptoms. Second, intelligence suggesting that Banir, who has been presumed dead since Lake’s rescue over two decades earlier, is alive in Kenya, though in very poor health owing to a rare blood disease. The CIA isn’t much interested in catching Banir, though, so with the help of Milton (Yelchin), a CIA colleague, Lake decides to go rogue and find Banir himself. The film has so many territories set up it doesn’t have the chance to full explore each one of them as a result most of these instances just look down right goofy. The film seemed confused in the direction it wanted to go, on one end we have a sinister terrorist, who is so ill he can barely get out of his chair without help, and the cunning intelligence officer is on the edge of permanently losing his mental capacities, while on the other the film needlessly focuses on the vigorous patriotism & values of Americans.
There’s potential there, at the very least, for a twist on the action genre, but that potential is never mined. To be fair Nicholas Cage plays his part well, his symptoms of dementia, from the hand shaking, the forgetfulness, and to the stammering and blank look on his face, it goes to his acting range, its actually great to watch. Anton Yelchin is totally miscast and his part is a train wreck. First he’s a nerdy eager beaver goody two shoes then he suddenly becomes a totally unconvincing cold killer, except when he has to physically engage the bad guy, at which point he reverts to the nerdy 70-pound weakling. His mousy baby face is suited to neither of those roles and he doesn’t manage to pull off the innocent-looking tough guy act; in fact it seems never to have occurred to him to try. On the whole Dying of the light is sad film which seems like a montage to a stars dying career & even though Schrader claims the studios screwed the film, the real problem as a director, he never delved deep into his material to begin with, and filmed a lot that is just peripheral noise, so it was possible with a few or more tweaks by the studio turned the film into something he wants nothing to do with. Well who cares the movie is a disappointing product of a disappointing production!
Director – Paul Schrader
Rated – R
Run Time – 94 minutes