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Film

#89: 211 (2018)

My name is Ed, and I, like all of you, watch a Nicolas Cage film every week, pick six numbers from within that film, then play the National Lottery with those numbers.

This week: a film whose title is a number! Surely a good sign, even if it is too long a number to be of use when playing the National Lottery where you can only go up to 59. Film-titling idiots

As an exercise, watching everything Nic Cage has ever done as of 2018 is a lot more trying than it was when I was watching everything Nic Cage had ever done as of, say, 1997. He was making films that, even when they weren’t always good, you could sort of generally understand why they existed. And there was money involved: you could recognise at least one of the other actors! Plus he wasn’t making 15 of them a year!

Anyway, here’s 211, starring Nic Cage and ‘Dwayne Cameron’ from ‘Power Rangers Operation Overdrive’ as cops trying to stop a bank robbery, loosely based on real bank robbery North Hollywood Shootout, which possibly involved shooting. 211, by the way, is the California police code for ‘a robbery is happening’ – the film isn’t set in California, so this doesn’t make any sense, but a) they never bother explaining the title within the film itself anyway and b) that is the least of our problems!

It’s a bit of a thing now where Cage will do these films that he is barely in, knocking off all his scenes in a day or two just so the producers can trying and flog it on the promise of a ‘Hollywood star’ (but are there seriously people who watch these who aren’t doing a podcast or trying to win the lottery or whatever?). I had my concerns that this was what 211 was going to be, as we start out with a Cage-free ten-minute scene of extremely low-rent action involving a 4 man team of evil mercenaries, cast as if to suggest that this whole film is the vehicle for an appalling rock band.

In fact, they are: the son of Nicolas Cage, Weston Cage Coppola (quite funny to call yourself that when the whole point of your dad changing his name was so people didn’t think he was relying on family connections), the son of Quantum Leap creator, Donald P. Bellisario, and two other guys with dads not famous enough to determine whether nepotism was involved.

Anyway, the film immediately cuts to a black high school kid being beaten up by racist bullies in a toilet, then to a cop finding out that his wife is pregnant, then to a bank manager getting ready for work, as though you’ve sat on the remote and everything on all the channels is a different very cheap-looking film made by the same not very good director. (York Alec Shackleton’s IMDB bio starts with a long paragraph about his snowboarding career, which is always a good sign I reckon. Sample line from his Wikipedia page: “Shackleton quickly landed a lead role in I Know What You Did Last Winter and received high marks from both critics and audiences[citation needed]” Hmm.)

Anyway, eventually it turns out that a) this all does fit together and b) Nicolas Cage is properly in this, as the father-to-be cop’s partner, and father-in-law, with hilarious consequences! The story is that the Kasabian mercenaries are going to break into the local bank to steal some money they think they’re owed and only THE POLICE can stop them, with the help of the aforementioned high schooler who has been punished for beating up the bullies by being sent to spend a day riding around in the back of a police car, which, hang on, don’t they sometimes need that part of the police car?

But also there are about 46 other characters that the film insists we keep track of for no readily available reason – the kid’s mum, who is a local surgeon (I WONDER IF THIS WILL BECOME RELEVANT), Nic Cage’s character’s daughter who keeps looking at baby toys so we remember THE STAKES, the people in the bank, a male and female pair of cops who ‘do banter’, various other police including THE CHIEF, a SWAT team, and an Interpol agent who has followed the baddies from wherever it was they were shooting at at the start and forgets to do anything of of any consequence.

There is nothing, I suppose, conceptually wrong with the idea of showing these events from lots of different perspectives, but in practice it’s just sort of dully hyperactive – there’s never enough time to even notionally get invested in any of the characters, so the film doesn’t leave itself enough room to do the usual sleight of hand. Halfway into the film, the unfortunate high schooler is wailing as he’s cradling a dying police officer: but in terms of screentime we’ve only actually seen them together for about three minutes because it was more important to find out what someone else’s cousin had for breakfast, so the effect is just ludicrous.

If there is something interesting in this film, it’s that I don’t even know what it’s failing to be – is it just a really inept attempt at a ‘commercial’ action movie or is it actually supposed to be a sort of high concept piece about our intertwining lives maaaan?

Nicolas Cage is sad, doesn’t like kids with their cell phones, and then learns to be happy, and that cell phones can also take pictures of your family. The film is only 86 minutes long. That is all I have to report.

THE NUMBERS

7 – There were seven months between Cage’s dead wife’s diagnosis and her being dead of whatever she was diagnosed with. Upside: she didn’t have to be in the film!

16 – The Interpol agent leaves the interstate to the town where the bank is at Exit 16, according to her GPS.

23 – Nicolas Cage’s police car is police car 23. 23 is an Illuminatus secret symbol or something isn’t it? Imagine being obsessed with finding meaning in hidden numbers everywhere. Morons.

32 – “This reminds me of that extraction we did in Kabul.” “How many killings did you get?” “Thirty-two.” “That’s right. The legend.”

33 – Part of the evil bank-robbing involves blowing up a cafe at 1033 Cranberry Boulevard.

36 – There’s 1.36 million dollars in the bank safe, which doesn’t seem like a lot of dollars when it’s split four ways and presumably is supposed to last quite a long time unless you’re going to knock off banks every few years?

THE RESULT

Lottery draw: 2604

Date: Saturday 5 December, 2020

Jackpot: £4,109,513

Draw machine: Arthur

Ball set: 5

Balls drawn: 13,38,47,51,52,59

Bonus ball: 18

Numbers selected: 7,16,23,32,33,36

Matching balls: 0

Numbers selected (lucky dip): N/A

Matching balls (lucky dip): N/A

Winnings: £0 (£0 to date)

Total Profit/Loss: £-176

For fuck’s sake. I was going to say maybe I should rob a bank but then realised I have definitely already said that after failing to win the lottery with numbers from another rubbish Nic Cage bank heist movie – Trapped In Paradise? Stolen? Nic Cage, please make a bank heist movie that isn’t shite and WE WILL ALL BE WINNERS.

NEXT TIME ON NICOLAS CAGE

Only two decades late, he finally gets to play Superman, in, er, Teen Titans Go! To The Movies.