Cast: Nicolas Cage, Sophie Skelton, and Michael Rainey Jr.
Director: York Shackleton
87 minutes (15) 2018
Lions Gate DVD Region 2
[Released 23rd July]
Review by Donald Morefield
Nicolas Cage is churning out a variety of new movies, lately. Last year, he starred in futuristic actioner The Humanity Bureau, Brian Taylor’s black-comedy horror Mom And Dad, psycho-nanny thriller Inconceivable, crime drama Vengeance: A Love Story, and he also portrayed a violent mobster in kidnapping-crisis movie Arsenal. This year’s 211 (American police code ‘two-eleven’ means a robbery) follows Tim Hunter’s murder mystery Looking Glass, and precedes weird religious-cult horror Mandy, and a forthcoming supernatural drama titled Between Worlds. Thankfully, the actor’s almost frantically busy schedule does not undermine his creative outpourings, or the intriguing appeal of the various finished projects.
Although it’s set in a fictional US town, this movie production was actually filmed in Bulgaria. Its European location shoot is readily apparent in the background details of several scenes, but this quite forgivable error in no way detracts from the picture’s entertainment values, or the purported American setting for its drama, that’s based upon a true story.
Character introductions for Mike Chandler (Nicolas Cage), his partner in the cops’ patrol car, and the criminal motivations of the crooked commando team, are played out briskly with a tight hold on the reins for sketches written, and designed, in a workman fashion, beginning with a raid in Afghanistan. The main US action is slickly choreographed and precisely directed for maximum dramatic impact, so the movie, as a whole, overcomes the familiarity of its scenario and rather stereotyped characters, such as the troubled black student stuck in the back of a police vehicle for a ride-along at exactly the wrong time for him to be there.
There’s a family tragedy for the hero to overcome but a happy ending for most of those main characters closely involved in the crime scene, except for the villains, of course. The California-born director’s previous movies include Kush (2007), and Pretty Perfect (2014), plus a few documentaries, and a measure of documentary style realism informs the principal action of this crime drama.