Dying of the Light seems to be a cautionary tale as well as show the perhaps seedy side of Hollywood when a project gets taken away from the filmmaker. In fairness, and it is a distinct possibility, that there might be more to the story but the final cut we get here is a mess and worse, a boring and dull mess at that. Nicolas Cage actually wasn’t too bad and there are some interesting elements but I would’ve loved to have seen Shrader’s version.
Dying of the Light
Genre(s): Drama, Suspense/Thriller
Lionsgate | R – 94 min. – $24.99 | February 17, 2015
THE MOVIE – 2.0/5
Nicolas Cage’s latest release, yet another direct-to-video (as well as VOD) affair which seems to have far more interesting background than the movie itself. Dying of the Light is one of the duller flicks I’ve come across and one that had so much potential monkeyed with by a production company more interested in ego and instead got a director, two of its stars and an executive producer to disown the entire thing.
Dying of the Light centers on CIA agent Evan Luke (NICOLAS CAGE) who, 22 years earlier, had been captured and tortured by a notorious and brutal terrorist named Muhammad Banir (ALEXANDER KARIM). After being rescued by Special Forces, Luke now lives with the pains of the torture. Meanwhile, now riding a desk in his twilight years with the agency, and giving patriotic speeches to new recruits, but still yearns to be out in the field, though the CIA director isn’t so recipient especially when Luke comes forward that Banir, who was thought killed during his rescue extraction, may indeed still be alive.
Add to his troubles of being shutdown and his career coming to an end, Luke also learns he has a frontal temple dementia that is slowly deteriorating his memories and also leads to bouts of anger which shows itself when he lambasts his boss ultimately leading to his firing. Now on his own, he does receive help from protégé Milton Schultz (ANTON YELCHIN), as Luke is determined to find Banir and exact his revenge before it’s too late, not only with his own health but that he believes Banir is on the brink of death himself.
Evan Luke goes rogue with Schultz travelling halfway around the world thanks to tips that Banir is receiving treatment from a doctor. During their investigation, they get help from an old flame of Evan’s named Michelle Zubarain (IRENE JACOB) who has police connections leading them to the doctor and with some strong arming, gets his cooperation which then gets to a laughable scenario where Luke, with the help of a remarkable make-up artist, attempts to pose as the doctor in order to get close to Banir and finally get his revenge.
Through all of this, his dementia seems to be getting worse and here we have one of more interesting aspects but thrown away for the generic action-thriller aspects we’ve seen in countless Bourne rip-offs (and Bourne Legacy is one of them).
Dying of the Light, put simply and precisely, is a dull movie. A well made film from a visual standpoint and save for a couple of scenes, well acted, but ultimately dull with the story.
Cage for his part was actually not bad and probably turns in one of his better performances in quite some time however that’s not saying much when his resume includes Left Behind, Trespass, Season of the Witch and Stolen, though he wasn’t bad in The Frozen Ground and Joe, the former had so much wasted potential.
Due to the cuts and editing the producers and production company made, what could’ve been an interesting character drama, with some suspense, instead became a generic film with poor pacing and what felt like a haphazard story that never quite came together. Dying of the Light, even if Shrader’s version was preserved, might still not have been that good but unfortunately we’ll never know.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.25/5
This release comes with a matted slip cover. Inside is a redemption code for the Digital Copy.
Behind the Scenes of Dying of the Light (14:27; HD) is a fairly standard making-of featurette with some behind-the-scenes footage intermixed with interviews and footage from the movie itself. There’s nothing profound and certainly it’s glowing about the screenplay with no mention of the problems with the production (per contract).
Deleted Scenes (23:40; HD) – We get a fair amount of scenes that were either trimmed or outright removed. Not a whole here of consequence but there are a couple of OK scenes with Cage’s character dealing with his dementia.
Interviews with the Cast and Crew (TRT 18:10; HD) – Here we get on-set interview footage with Paul Schrader, Nicolas Cage, Anton Yelchin, Alexander Karim, Claudius Peters and Adetomiwa Edun.
Theatrical Trailer (2:31; HD)
VIDEO – 4.0/5
Lionsgate releases Dying of the Light presented with a 2.35 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer. The detail level on this transfer is adequate but nothing striking nor amazing; colors appear to be well balanced including skin tones. It’s a fine looking picture that could be considered disappointing for a recent release.
AUDIO – 4.0/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track meanwhile is also sufficient yet gets the job done. Dialogue sounds crisp and clear throughout, there were no noticeable hisses nor did the track top out though when we did get action scenes, and really there are only a couple and those come towards the end, it does lack depth from gunshots and subsequent ricochets.
OVERALL – 2.75/5
Overall, Dying of the Light seems to be a cautionary tale as well as show the perhaps seedy side of Hollywood when a project gets taken away from the filmmaker. In fairness, and it is a distinct possibility, that there might be more to the story but the final cut we get here is a mess and worse, a boring and dull mess at that. Nicolas Cage actually wasn’t too bad and there are some interesting elements but I would’ve loved to have seen Shrader’s version (not to say his would’ve been any better mind you).
The Blu-ray released by Lionsgate has good video/audio transfers while the bonus material is mostly forgettable.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.