A violent mob thriller starring a bored Nicholas Cage hairpiece

Spanish director Paco Cabezas makes his American debut with Rage, starring Nicholas Cage in a spectacular hairpiece. Truly, the hairpiece is the most original thing about Rage. The violent mob thriller is a predictable tale of vengeance, a competent but generic effort in its genre. Working with a deep cast of notable actors which includes Danny Glover, Peter Stormare, and Rachel Nichols, Rage highlights a paint-by-numbers script. This is the type of film one may catch for a passing diversion on cable if you are in to these actors but is probably not worth actively seeking out.

Rage is the story of Paul Maguire (Nicholas Cage) and what he does when his teenage daughter is kidnapped by unknown assailants. Paul is a wealthy land developer with former ties to organized crime and the Irish mob. His trophy wife Vanessa (Rachel Nichols) is only dimly aware of Paul’s violent past. Paul has seemingly gone legitimate for several years when his daughter Caitlin is brutally abducted from their home. The police immediately suspect someone from Paul’s criminal past, possibly linked to the Russian mob. A weary detective played by Danny Glover warns Paul to stay away and let the police handle matters. Hmmm, I wonder what a former mob thug will do in that situation?

Rage moves forward in the most predictable manner possible, as Paul’s daughter soon turns up dead. Paul forsakes the straight life he’s been living with his family and begins a dark path to justice. Employing two former mob associates, the trio look for answers by beating and maiming anyone that crosses their path.

No one has accused Nicholas Cage of picking good scripts. The once A-list actor has shown a willingness in recent years to appear in just about anything. The Oscar winner is still a good actor but Rage fits the profile of his most recent work. It is a competent genre effort that is terribly derivative of more entertaining films such as Taken and filled with trite cliches. The entire movie is almost derailed by a dumb revelation near its end. There was actually a much better reveal possibly hiding in this narrative that is totally ignored. Rage goes with a completely implausible twist that is impossible to predict given the film’s story structure.

Peter Stormare plays the Irish mob boss, a role perfectly suited to his skills. Danny Glover is the prototypical hard-boiled cop, though his character does not get enough screen time to make a real impact. The script should have been re-worked to include more of Rachel Nichols’ character, Vanessa. Her contributions include a lot of crying and one of the stranger lovemaking scenes, as Paul and Vanessa couple with each other as the camera never cuts below their necks. For a movie with no compunctions about showing men being shot at point-blank range, it has an extreme shyness when it comes to sexuality. Paul ends up visiting the only strip club in America where dancers wear full outfits.

No one should expect Goodfellas when they watch Rage. Nicholas Cage carries the fairly bland mob thriller with a solid cast backing him up. This is decent cable fare made to be seen when nothing else is on at the moment.

Movie ★★★☆☆

No pressure @ 1:20:00

Rage looks great in 1080P thanks to this fine presentation from Image Entertainment. A digitally-shot production on the Epic RED camera, the solid AVC video encode preserves all of Rage’s sharp detail in fairly stunning clarity. This is not quite reference video but its flaws are minor, filmed in a pristine method with little apparent noise.

Framed in an eye-pleasing 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio, Rage has a glossy sheen which exudes razor-sharp clarity. There might be a tad too much yellow in the flesh-tones, especially in the earliest interior shots, but Rage contains impeccable black levels matched with an even contrast. The pristine video is completely unfiltered, reveling in vivid close-ups littered with magnificent high-frequency content. Rage’s digital intermediate has been left largely untouched by notable manipulation, giving it strong color reproduction and superior shadow delineation.

Image Entertainment has done an excellent job with Rage’s overall video transfer on Blu-ray. We get a nearly-identical presentation to its original digital master unmarred by technical issues.

Video ★★★★★

This is a strong action soundtrack presented in a solid 5.1 DTS-HD MA selection. Rage is filled with action all over the soundstage, from explosions to loud gunshots. The surround channels are actively involved in a thrilling car chase sequence with satisfying results. Sound quality and overall mixing is a step behind bigger Hollywood productions. A few Foley effects sound out of place. The score is a generic one playing in a conventional style, striking an ominous mood when the scene calls for it.

Optional English SDH and Spanish subtitles are included, displaying in a white font remaining inside the widescreen framing at all times.

Audio ★★★★☆

We get a smattering of short featurettes and deleted scenes. The alternate opening is the only one worth watching, it introduces Paul’s checkered past much sooner into the narrative than the final cut. Image Entertainment has provided a slipcover for Rage and this combo pack also includes a DVD version replicating all content from the Blu-ray.

Deleted Scenes-

Alternate Opening (05:44 in HD) – The most significant bonus feature by far since I think the movie would have been better with its inclusion.

After The Press Conference (01:44 in HD)
We Did Everything Right (02:42 in HD)
Alternate Ending (03:23 in HD) – A misleading name as it does not alter the original ending’s intent and changes very little except some of the editing.

Extended Ending Shot (01:34 in HD)

The Making of Rage-

Behind Rage (01:25 in HD), Directing Rage (02:01 in HD), Nicholas Cage in Rage (01:53 in HD) – Typical EPK featurettes showcasing brief answer clips with Nicholas Cage, Rachel Nichols, and the director. Lightweight would be an apt term to describe them all. It’s hard to say much of anything about a film in five minutes.

TrailersOdd Thomas (02:29 in HD), The Colony (02:18 in HD), and The Numbers Station (02:23 in HD) all precede the main menu.

Extras ★★☆☆☆

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.