That viral video ‘Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit’ was precisely as great as you’d imagine: a supercut of scenes featuring the scenery-chewing superstar ranting and shrieking like a coked-up banshee maniac. But could it have had an unfortunate side effect? Did Cage take one look, realise he’d gone too far and make a vow to stop freaking out on screen? Exhibit one: ‘Dog Eat Dog’, in which he plays Troy, the leader of a Cleveland-based criminal trio tasked with kidnapping a baby and forcing the father to cough up the millions he owes a local crime lord. The perfect opportunity for Cage to go balls-out batshit, you’d imagine. You’d be sadly wrong.
In fact, the only one cutting loose at all is Willem Dafoe as Troy’s aptly named sidekick Mad Dog, who in the film’s first scene murders his girlfriend and her 12-year-old daughter. It’s a blunt, ugly opening, setting the tone for the film to come. Director Paul Schrader (‘Blue Collar’) was a major talent once, but his direction here alternates between TV-dull and look-at-me lurid. The biggest waste, though, is Cage: a brief spot of shit-losing would’ve gone a long way to elevating this flat, forgettable thriller.