Dog Eat Dog centres on three ex-cons, who’ve spent a great deal of their life in prison, resulting in them each having two strikes, meaning a third arrest will send them down for life with no parole. Hence, it’s time for a job which will be ‘one last hurrah’.
They’re hired by a Cleveland mafioso The Greek (director Paul Schrader giving himself a cameo, dishing out orders) and their task if kidnap a baby sired by rival mobster Mike Brennan. The film takes over half its 92-minute running time to get to that point, however, with the three – Troy (Nicolas Cage), Mad Dog (Willem Dafoe) and Diesel (Christopher Matthew Cook) – going to seedy bars and indulging in some some gross acts violence, particularly in the opening scene where there’s some very distasteful violence against women which would instantly attract an 18-certificate.
At one point, Cage asks someone if he looks like Humphrey Bogart (he doesn’t at all – where did that come from??), but none of that excuses excuse the cod impression that comes later.
Some of the OTT violence takes Dog Eat Dog away from being a complete waste of time because it made me sit up and think what on earth was going on in the mind of Schrader, due to it being quite tasteless – such as a head exploding, and the film as a whole doesn’t feel like an unenjoyable way to spend 90 minutes, but there’s zero real story to chew on and nothing we haven’t seen done before, or better. I watched this as the trailer looked very good and that it would make for a snappy film, but mostly, it had very little to shout about whatsoever.
This is a shame as it’s based on a novel by Eddie Bunker, probably best known as playing Mr Blue in the opening of Quentin Tarantino’s directorial debut, Reservoir Dogs.
Given the number of films Cage makes a year, some will be hits and some will be misses. This one is a definite miss, although it’s always entertaining to see Dafoe hamming it up as a complete headcase from time to time.
Running time: 93 minutes
Studio: Signature Entertainment
Released: November 18th 2016
Director: Paul Schrader
Producers: Brian Beckmann, Mark Earl Burman, Gary Hamilton and David Hillary
Screenplay: Matthew Wilder (based on the novel by Edward Bunker)
Music: Deantoni Parks
Troy: Nicolas Cage
Mad Dog: Willem Dafoe
Diesel: Christopher Matthew Cook
Moon Man: Omar J Dorsey
Zoe: Louisa Krause
Lina: Melissa Bolona
Chepe: Reynaldo Gallegos
Sheila: Chelcie Melton
Maurie: Bruce Reizen
Gun Enthusiast: Jeff Hilliard
Melissa: Ali Wasdovich
Mike Brennan: Louis Perez
Nanny: Magi Avila
El Greco: Paul Schrader
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.