BLU-RAY REVIEW: TOKAREV / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: PACO CABEZAS / SCREENPLAY: JAMES AGNEW, SEAN KELLER / STARRING: NICOLAS CAGE, RACHEL NICHOLS, PETER STORMARE, DANNY GLOVER / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
It’s easy to forget that Nicolas Cage has made good films. Leaving Las Vegas, Bad Lieutenant, this year’s Joe. The cover for Tokarev tries to remind us of this, proudly showing off its “Academy Award Winner” of a star. The film itself does its best to make us forget this.
Cage plays Paul Maguire, an overly controlling father with a rough past and a very particular set of skills. One day, his house is broken into and his daughter is taken. You wouldn’t be mistaken if you assumed that the film’s taken some liberties and taken its plot directly from another popular action thriller…
Now, Taken isn’t perfect, but compared to Tokarev, it’s the Citizen Kane of shoot-em-up exploitation. The writers here seem to have entirely missed what made Taken suspenseful. Without spoiling too much, the kidnapping plot is wrapped up way too early, with a twist that feels like a midpoint coming about half an hour in, meaning that Maguire spends much of the film with no clear objective other than being a massive knob. The big twist at the end, meanwhile, feels like it genuinely could have worked had it been properly set up and better written. So that’s one good point, nearly.
But you’re just here for the shooting and the explosions, and they’ve got to be great, right? Well, not really. Whereas Taken’s Bryan Mills was on his own in an unknown foreign city against unbeatable odds, Maguire has a much easier ride. He has two big tough henchmen. We know they’re big and tough because, before shit starts going down, we see them talking about all the women they’ve slept with and all the scotch they’ve drunk. Wahey, lads! At one point, Maguire and his lackeys break into a house blasting their shotguns around and easily overpower a bunch of kids. He’s not an action hero, he’s a bully!
And that’s a problem that carries over into other aspects of his character. Rather than lead him to question his controlling nature, the film seems to constantly be trying to one-up itself in terms of how unlikeable Maguire is. At one point, he strangles his wife. We’re meant to root for this guy. The ending hints at Maguire finally facing the consequences of his actions, but it’s too little, too late.
In case you haven’t got the point yet, Tokarev isn’t a good film. It’s 98 minutes of arseholes shouting at other arseholes. The action’s boring, the dialogue’s shoddy, the men are depthless, and the women are all strippers or victims. On the positive side, there’s an amazing contribution to any future ‘Nicolas Cage loses his shit’ YouTube montages.
Extras: Deleted Scenes / Trailer