May 8, 2009
Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on May 2009
When Nicolas Cage is good (Moonstruck, Leaving Las Vegas, Adaptation), he’s very good. But when he’s bad, he’s—well, he’s this. The guy can act, so why doesn’t he do more of it? This is an emotionally vacuous adaptation by Thailand’s Danny and Oxide Pang of their own 1999 Thai-language cult film. A morose, shampoo-adverse, no-questions-asked hit man habitually hires a street-wise assistant in each city he visits, and then offs the poor guy when his murderous work is done. It is not explained why he takes a shine to the guy he hires in Bangkok and starts teaching him his nefarious trade (or for that matter why he initiates an insipid love affair with a deaf-mute pharmacist), except that maybe the plot would be even thinner without these wrinkles. This infectiously gloomy picture is unpleasant to look at as well, and atmospherically pretentious. Note to Pangs: dimming the lights does not alone create atmosphere; it just makes things hard to see. At one point Cage has the line, “The money’s good and I do as I’m told.” And for one confusing moment you think he may be talking about his own career.