#79: Dog Eat Dog (2016)

My name is Ed and I have cursed myself to watch the films of Nicolas Cage until either he dies, I die, or I win the lottery by choosing numbers based on the films.

Director Paul Schrader has worked with Cage twice before: he wrote Bringing Out The Dead (along with more famous Scorsese films including Taxi Driver), then he directed Dying Of The Light. That turned into something of a disaster after it was allegedly so badly gutted by the studio during post-production that both Schrader and Cage disowned.

Despite that setback, they were obviously up for working together again, as we now have Dog Eat Dog, an odd sort of crime caper that blends nihilism and the feeling of having had too much sugar for breakfast.

Dog Eat Dog sees Cage on fairly familiar ground as one of a trio of ex-cons (the others being Willem Defoe and some guy who doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page) who attempt to escape their criminal pasts by, er, kidnapping a baby for ransom. This and their various other misadventures end poorly for all concerned, including the viewer.

At first glance, the film’s got enough style — brash, lurid, loud though that style may be — that it raises some hope. Especially if you’ve just watched Snowden and USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage. But it never gets beyond that, as half-baked characters stumble through a series of vaguely-connected events that only qualify as plot on a technicality. A shaggy Dog Eat Dog story, if you ask me!!!!

As the performances go, Dafoe is enjoyably unpleasant as the ‘title’ character Mad Dog, is at turns the most simpleminded, psychopathic and neurotic member of the group. The role was initially offered to Cage, who felt it was too close to what he’d done in something else (presumably Army Of One, of which more next time). This is a shame, as I suspect he’d have made a bit more of it than he does as Troy, the group’s leader. He gets a bit more to chew on than in the last couple of films, but he doesn’t quite do enough to save the aimlessly nihilistic material.

The film occasionally wobbles into something fun — a character unexpectedly launching into a conspiracy theory about sad dead musician Elliott Smith, the criminals spraying each other with condiments in a hotel room, the unsettlingly sight of Willem Defoe making out with someone — but it never seems to quite get ahold of the tone it’s grasping at.

Even if it had, it wouldn’t excuse it from practically all the female characters being either a) props, b) victims or c) punched in the face by Nicolas Cage in lingering slow motion. Are you thinking of doing some edgy ironic misogyny in a film? Probably do something else instead!

To be charitable, perhaps you could read some of the flaws of Dog Eat Dog as ‘the point’ — to give us a bunch of criminals so morally bankrupt, inept and generally awful that all the slick film-making techniques in the world can’t glamorise them. To be less charitable, it executes that idea badly and I didn’t need to spend two hours watching a film to know that crime is bad.


15 — Nic Cage goes to jail for a ‘5 to 15 year hit’ for naughty drugs crime and then attempting a violent escape from the court where he was being convicted of the naughty drugs crime.

25 — The film was apparently shot in only 25 days, by a crew mostly comprised of recent film school graduates.

26 — This is, as far as I can recall, the first Nicolas Cage film to feature Taylor Swift. She isn’t actually in it, she’s one of the things that Willem Dafoe says he didn’t know about because he was in prison. Along with the Iraq War. Later in the film Nicolas Cage reads the issue of GQ on which she appeared on the front cover. She was 26 at the time.

28 — Nic Cage ended up in prison because ‘some asshole cop’ planted 28 grams of coke on him.

30 — Making her second appearance in a Nicolas Cage film (after a fairly big part in Left Behind) is Nicky Whelan, better known to people who watched the Australian soap opera Neighbours in 2006 as Pepper Steiger from the Australian soap opera Neighbours in 2006. She lived at number 30, Ramsay Street.

47 — The first dialogue we hear in the film is someone on TV talking about a hypothetical 62-year-old woman with an AK-47.


Lottery draw: 2287

Date: Wednesday 22 November, 2017

Jackpot: £1,855,244

Draw machine: Lancelot

Ball set: 3

Balls drawn: 2,16,17,27,36,37

Bonus ball: 42

Numbers selected: 15,25,26,28,30,47

Matching balls: 0

Numbers selected (lucky dip): N/A

Matching balls (lucky dip): N/A

Winnings: £0 (£0 to date)

Total Profit/Loss: £-156

0 numbers. Truly I have learned that crime does not pay. Again.


Army Of One, which is another bloody True Story, only this time featuring Russell Brand as God. That’s sure to be good.


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