Review: 211

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PLOT: A veteran cop (Nicolas Cage) with a teenaged ride-along, finds himself in the middle of a firefight with bank-robbing, armed-to-the-teeth mercenaries.

REVIEW: How low is the bar going to get set? That’s what I kept thinking to myself watching 211, the latest in a staggeringly poor series of VOD actioners Nicolas Cage has found himself trapped in. While he manages to sneak in the occasional gem, such as MOM & DAD, THE TRUST or the legitimately great MANDY, movies like U.S.S INDIANAPOLIS: MEN OF COURAGE, VENGEANCE, INCONCEIVABLE, and THE HUMANITY BUREAU (none of these movies – save the shark one – actually sent out screeners to critics) are frighteningly inept. Initially, I thought the LEFT BEHIND remake was going to be as bottom-of-the-barrel as it was gonna get, but 211 is a new low.

Boasting production values that wouldn’t have passed muster in a direct-to-video nineties Lorenzo Lamas movie, 211 is painful to watch, thanks to the sobering realization that Cage is no longer above Z-grade potboilers with no redeeming features whatsoever. Part of me wants to compare director York Shackleton to someone like Ed Wood, but I’m not totally sure he’s to blame, as I’m certain he had no money or resources whatsoever, and Cage breaking his ankle early on in the shoot probably didn’t help matters.

Ludicrously marketed as being “inspired” by a true story (in this case the famous 1997 L.A bank shootout where the LAPD went up against robbers carrying an arsenal), this does away with any pesky facts surrounding the original incident, with the only similarities being that cops go up against machine guns. Otherwise, it’s all ludicrous, action movie fiction, with the premise here being that a team of mercenaries (one of them being Cage’s son, Weston), double-crossed by a money launderer, knock off a Massachusetts bank where he’s got a million bucks stashed. Enter Cage, playing a cop on the verge of retirement, partnered with his own son-in-law, who’s got a teen ride-along (Michael Rainey Jr.) with him as part of a scared- straight program for teens. Checking up on a suspicious SUV, they wind up right in the middle of a major firefight, with Cage being separated from the kid, and having to somehow find him and bring him home.

What the trailers don’t tell you is that Cage is regulated to a supporting role. Perhaps limited by his availability, he only shows up in the second act, and is absent for long stretches of screen time. The scant eighty-six-minute runtime is drawn out by a lengthy set-up for the mercs and the sexy Interpol agent on their trail. Another thing the trailers try to hide is that Bulgaria hilariously fills in for the U.S, with shoddy green screen and cheap production design. Even worse, most of the actors, save for the leads, seem to have been looped by American actors to cover-up their accents – to poor effect.

Technical limitations aside, the script is ridiculous, and loaded with howlers, such as the fact that the cops indiscriminately fire thousands of rounds into a bank where hostages are being held, or that Cage’s on-screen daughter is able to push her way into hospital operating rooms at will, mid-surgery! A tacked-on ending is especially embarrassing; with it painfully obvious none of the actors are in the same room together. Cannon Films, at its lowest ebb, wouldn’t have allowed this.

Even Cage loyalists would be well-advised to skip 211, as it’s truly as bad as this kind of thing gets, and a mortifyingly poor showing for Cage. Classic film fans may remember when Buster Keaton was forced, in his later, near-destitute years, to do cameos in sixties beach party movies. This is worse. 211 is Bela Lugosi’s home movies being spliced into PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE level bad.

Source: JoBlo.com



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