For reasons I can not really explain I felt compelled to watch Bangkok Dangerous last Saturday. It’s a movie with a really stupid title (not a good sign) starring Nicholas Cage (also not a good sign these days) as a hitman who grows a conscience, fall in love, takes on a student and dies (oh come on, that’s not a spoiler). You know, just like every other movie about emo hitmen out there. Only much more boring.
So, Nicholas Cage is a hitman named Joe. The movie starts with him in Prague (it’s always Prague, isn’t it? Is it the new crime hot spot in Europe or something?) taking out a criminal who’s talking to the police, kills his own accomplice in order to hide his tracks and then he starts droning about his rules (that he’ll of course break during the course of the movie). It seems he’s getting tired of the hitman lifestyle though since he says that the next job in Bangkok will be his last.
Once in Bangkok he hires a new accomplice (named Kong) and starts working on the 4 hits his employer wants him to make. There’s really nothing interesting about the first two other than that Joe get hurt escaping from the first hit. This leads to the meeting with his love interest, a deaf girl who works in a pharmacy. Naturally they do what all people of opposite sex do when they hang out for a few days; they fall hopelessly in love with each other. Just like in real life.
After the second hit he is planning to kill Kong but apparently changes his mind when Kong ask Joe to train him. Good thinking bringing another person into this lifestyle you dislike so much, Joe.
It is at the third hit that we start to realize that Joe doesn’t operate like how we expect professional killers to operate. I’m not an expert on contract killing but from what I’ve learned from books and movies professional hitmen pick their own time and place for the hit and study the target and surrounding areas extensively before the hit. Not our Joe though. He gets told exactly when and where and he doesn’t even survey the area or the target.
The third hit is set to take place in a crowded floating market and at close range! What the hell? Couldn’t find any sniper rifles for sale in Bangkok? Here we also get to see more of Joe’s awesome hitman skills. He’s riding in a dinky boat with his silenced pistol covered by a flimsy flower necklace with the front of the barrel sticking out a good 5 centimeters for everyone to see. The plan is apparently to shoot the target when passing him by in the narrow canal. Where there are hundred of witnesses, both locals and tourist with cameras. Oh, and did I mention it’s broad daylight? Not exactly a mastermind, our protagonist. The hit goes wrong, of course, when a sales lady rocks the dinky boat but instead of doing the professional thing and call it off in order to try another day Joe goes on a (boring) chase all over the market using boats and motorcycles. Good job not drawing attention to yourself.
It’s at this point that I completely lost interest in the movie and started hoping that someone would put a bullet in Joe’s head so the damn movie would just end. I’d like to say that things pick up from here on as we build towards the finale but it really doesn’t. Joe spends time with the girl and mopes about. Has another hit, but decides to not go ahead with it because his target is a good guy and decides to take out his employer instead. Sure didn’t see that coming. There’s a subplot about Joe training Kong but it’s boring and doesn’t really lead to anything. There’s another subplot about Kong and a dancer (named Aom) falling for each other but it’s also pointless and boring and only exist so that both of them can be taken hostage towards the end. After much dragging of feet we get to the finale which is an unenthusiastic shootout with the boss and his henchmen that leaves Joe dead. In the stupidest manner possible. Let me explain. After gunning down the henchmen he gets in the car with boss and …. just sits there for what feels like minutes doing nothing. Really. Eventually the car starts rolling slooooowly backwards and towards the police and since Joe only has one bullet left (I guess?) he decides to blow both of their brains out with one bullet. He succeeds. Ok, I don’t want to rain on your parade or anything Joe but if you had shot the guy right away and gotten the hell out of the car you would have gotten away. I guess we are supposed to think that he does not want to get away but it’s stupid even then.
We then get a shot of Kong standing on a pier looking sullen. The End.
Jesus this movie felt a lot longer than it is. It is both boring and stupid. Now, stupid isn’t necessarily a detriment to an action movie. Many stupid action movies are funny and entertaining and filled with action but this movie isn’t one of those. Instead it combines being stupid with the capital sin of movie making: being boring.
Everything is boring about this movie. The direction is competent but lifeless and the same can be said about the cinematography. The few action scenes are technically competent but lifeless and uninspired. The characters are boring and you really don’t give a damn if any of them live or die. Joe has no interesting quirks, no special skills and no trademark style. Kong is probably the most interesting character (which isn’t saying much) but the script doesn’t give the actor anything interesting to do.
You don’t even get style over substance since there’s no distinctive style.
The biggest detriment however is Nicholas Cage’s lethargic performance. It’s like watching Olivier Gruner only with less charisma and intensity and absolutely no actual action taking place. He just drones on and on and on about his rules and how he’s alone and then spend (way too much) time with the deaf girl and talking some more and Jesus H Christ, will there be any action in this movie before I fall asleep? The funny thing is that the remake right for this movie (it’s a remake of the 1999 Pang brothers movie of the same name) was purchased by Cage’s production company so you’d think he’d have an interest in at least making an effort with his acting but I guess he realized how much the script sucked and decided to just cash a paycheck.
Unless you’re a Nicholas Cage fan that absolutely have to see every movie he’s ever been in you should avoid this one like the plague.