Saturday, September 06, 2008

"Bangkok Dangerous"

The trailers (and the film that it's a remake of) led me to believe that "Bangkok Dangerous" might not be high art, but held potential for a silly, fun action movie. Then, I read early reviews (inexplicably, considering the film wasn't screened) and warnings from two friends who'd seen it, with the unanimous opinion that it was a dull, lifeless bore that moves at a glacial pace and features Nic Cage appearing uninterested in the proceedings he's starring in. So, which is it, is the assassin-in-Bangkok movie great fun or a great bore? Oddly, neither. Given the shitty advance word, I was surprised that I was relatively involved with what was going on here, and though nothing terribly original jumped out at me, there's a more engaging story than I was expecting, and a boldly ugly/murky sense of style going on. While some might be bored by the bouncing between action sequences, Cage's mentoring of a young man named Kong, and his romance with a deaf girl (an on-screen manifestation of his real-life penchant for Asian girls less than half his age), for me, they lent the movie something vaguely resembling genuine substance. I wasn't anything close to gripped, but I never got antsy, bored or irritated. That said, it's perplexing that a movie with Cage sporting a hairdo this ridiculous, and boasting the silliest title of 2008, takes itself as seriously as "Bangkok Dangerous" does. There are some action scenes I enjoyed, but even those are played rather staidly, and there's a startling absence of humor or moments that could be classified as tongue-in-cheek or over-the-top. By the time we reach the unintentionally goofball ending, the film's self-seriousness has reached an almost astounding level, and one wishes the decision had been made to play some of this for fun, laughs or cheap thrills.


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