Directed by Steven C. Miller.
Starring Nicolas Cage, Adrian Grenier, John Cusack, and Johnathon Schaech.
A Southern mobster attempts to rescue his kidnapped brother.
Is there a better way to ring in a new year of movies with some more material to add to the Nicolas Cage ‘Losing His S*** Montage’? The answer is no, and Cage is certainly… colorful in Arsenal. He plays Eddie King, rocking the most ridiculous haircut I have seen since the last movie where Cage looked completely absurd (which is like, last year) and is apparently the closest thing to a mobster in Mississippi. There’s a scene where he murders a guy, writes a letter about it, and then reads said letter to a hostage, at one point shouting something about “RIDING A F****** BUS”.
If you’re reading this review and thinking I’m here just to beat a dead horse and get some quick jabs in on the growing legacy and enigma that is Nicolas Cage, well I’m not. I love the guy, will defend his golden days as a legitimate great performer, and will watch anything he’s in. It just so happens that he’s really the only memorable thing about Arsenal, which is a boring slog that relies far too much on copious amounts of CGI blood and gore to pop some cheap thrills. It’s almost as if Cage knew he had signed on to something miraculously boring, then asked the director to hold his beer, and then just transformed into bats*** insane Cage. Who am I kidding, Nicolas Cage doesn’t need alcohol to get crazy.
Arsenal also features everyone’s other favorite “why in the hell is he in this” actor, John Cusack, as a DEA agent, and Entourage alumni, Adrian Grenier. As a matter of fact, Arsenal is a lot like the kind of random ass made up movie Vincent would star in, becoming a millionaire in the process. Here in the real world, it’s a terrible movie about a brother trying to save his junkie brother from gangsters by ponying up a hefty sum of ransom money. Easily the biggest failure of the movie is its method of trying to trick audiences into believing one thing when anyone that has ever seen a movie before can spot the truth from a mile away. The second biggest failure is the preposterous logic and circumstances that went into acquiring the money; what the audience is expected to believe is actually insulting. I could go on, so let’s just stop and call the whole movie a failure.
Initially, I thought that Arsenal would cover ground on negative events that can happen if you neglect what’s important (your family) just to keep metaphorically digging your brother out of holes he deserves to be in due to his own life choices. I expected far too much. It’s not, which makes close-up shots of a baby all the more confusing, and the point of JP’s (Adrian Grenier) family present all the more meaningless. If the movie had delved into that dynamic it probably would have been tolerable at best, but instead, it’s unsure if it wants to be a thriller or a brainless action flick. All the movie has on its mind is hobbling along to the next burst of violence, with all my mind being on is hoping that Nicolas Cage shows up again soon. Unfortunately, he does not have much screen time.
I will say this about Arsenal; the acting is solid, and seemingly appropriately represents what a trashy family led by a drug addict might devolve into. Even Adrian Grenier is convincing enough in his convictions about being there for family and rescuing his brother. That statement alone will probably sway Vin Diesel to watch the movie five times and vote it as the 2017 Best Picture. For everyone with common sense, the plot just doesn’t add up, leaving us solely with excessive gore (it’s not even creative bloodshed or fun to watch) and a couple good moments of Nicolas Cage doing exactly what we want him to do in a movie of this low quality. YouTube the latter and save your money.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★