Nicolas Cage stars in the sole movie that’s got the balls to open up against TIFF.
BANGKOK DANGEROUS (Oxide Pang Chun, Danny Pang). 99 minutes. Opens Friday (September 5). Rating: NN
Bangkok Dangerous isn't much of a movie, but it's a great commercial for the titular city and for Nicolas Cage's face. Cage has one of the all-time great movie faces. Even in repose, he reads as smart, stupid, innocent, depraved, strong, weak, always emotional and anything but normal.
Directors Danny Pang and Oxide Pang Chun know this and fill the movie with lavishly lit close-ups highlighting those intense eyes, sensuous lips and sculpted cheekbones. Cage responds by ditching any attempt at acting and lets his face do the work. This will strike you as a good thing if you remember him with his head on fire in Ghost Rider and the ludicrous tantrums of The Wicker Man.
Not that Cage has many acting opportunities here. As Joe, the lonesome hit man who wants to get out after one last big job (and now you know exactly where this movie is going), Cage only has to look intense, mostly into a sniperscope, or relaxed, when he's with the mute girl (Panward Hemmanee) he falls for or the young street hustler (Shahkrit Yamnarm) he takes on as a gofer and student.
Mute and hustler are both character-free clichés, but the former gives us an opportunity to tour scenic Bangkok, and the latter provides Joe with totally unbelievable motivation for walking into danger: "He's my student." That might make sense in a kung fu movie context, but not here. We already know that Joe routinely kills his gofers when he's done with them.
The Pang brothers have a good eye for locations and make Bangkok look suitably crowded, exotic and dangerous, but they rely too heavily on darkening down their high-def image to unpleasant monochrome greens or blues. That gets boring after a while. Sadly, they also rely on fragmented images for their action scenes, which spoils what could have been a great boat chase through a floating market.