Dog Eat Dog full movie review - Dog Eat Dog
Paul Schrader: 'I've made some important films. 'Dog Eat Dog is not one of them'.
Sad but true for Director/Writer Paul Schrader - A man with a career of 20 films, among them Taxi and Raging Bull - His career as a director remains unseen by his work as a screenwriter for Martin Scorsese - A legacy we will always remember him for - With Dog Eat Dog, Schrader tries to remind us that he is still relevant in the world - Ignoring one small fact - Everyone in this day and age can and will judge you harshly, no matter the reputation. Stylized as a low-budget Neo-noir crime caper with the talents of Nicolas Cage, Willem Dafoe and Schrader himself taking on a role, respectfully making comparisons to Quentin Tarantino's earlier films - With heavy-handed dialogue, harsh and senseless barbarity and a convoluted plot not worth following to its third act - Which is based on the novel of the same name by Edward Bunker.
Troy (Nicolas Cage), Mad Dog (Willem Dafoe), and Diesel (Christopher Matthew Cook) are a couple of goofball criminals, all with clichéd traits - Troy (The Straight-Man), Mad Dog (The Loose Cannon), and Diesel (The Muscle), tired of small end jobs they decide to pull off one last big score - Which involves kidnapping the baby of a rival mobster. But like most crime caper films, this goes awry and they are forced to fend for themselves - From the mob and now police following an anonymous tip.
On first glance, one can say that Schrader relates to the author himself - Edward Bunker. Both men looking for redemption, seeking a story that will ignite the spark they once had - For Schrader Dog Eat Dog should've been that story - After the disastrous events of his previous film, also starring Cage - 'Dying of the Light', unhappy with the film's re-cut, Schrader, and Cage publicly dismissed the film.
A similar theme about loss and redemption - A recurring theme for Schrader as he demonstrates it throughout his career as-a screenwriter.
Screenwriter, Matthew Wilder (Your Name Here) writes from a jarring and lurid place - depicting a dark Americana - Which is fine if used effectively. The idea of Troy, Cage's character - A movie buff with delusions of being a Humphrey Bogart lookalike is a small moment that stands out, adding more layers to a none the less complicated character.
In part, Nicolas Cage as Troy is subdued and less comical as we'd expect from a Nicolas Cage performance - Willem Dafoe as Mad Dog is fine and yet misunderstood - A man yearning for love and friendship, yet afraid to admit it. Christopher Matthew Cook as Diesel is less intriguing, as he stumbles with stoic and apprehensive tendencies.
Cinematographer Alexander Dynan never really shows us anything new to take in or marvel at besides the story itself - Perhaps in part to the editing by Ben Rodriguez Jr., who provides quick and fast paced editing.
Dog Eat Dog may inspire some with its unique flare or visuals - Fast and quick insert cuts - Or its simplistic story, whatever the reason only time will tell if we remember this as Paul Schrader film.