From the beginning we have the mysterious assassin who creates a certain set of rules. He then goes on to deliberately break all the rules that he sets for himself without a proper explanation. This domestic remake of the Pang brothers’ first hit movie in Thailand is the diary of a lonely mechanic on his last job. All he as to do is put one final bullet to bury a politician in Bangkok before he vanishes. The story, narrated in quick snippets by Cage, and illustrated by Asian extras who get their heads blown off, bears a slight resemblance to the cheap and grimy 1999 original in which the hero was a deaf mute. Hiring local henchman Kong to serve as a middleman, he successfully knocks off the first three targets in more or less professional fashion.
The movie’s slow pace had me yawning throughout the film. Action scenes were wrapped up pretty quickly and I can really only think of two main action scenes. There’s simply nothing new or fresh in this story. He rocks a Tom Hanks Da Vinci Code hairstyle and showcases his preferred acting style of “drowsy.” With these characteristics, Nicolas Cage doesn’t seem tough nor cool enough to be a shoe salesman much less a hitman. This American version of Bangkok Dangerous may feature the same characters as the original film, but their roles have been drastically changed. Generic story aside, it would have been all too easy to forget about the film’s shortcomings had the Pang Brothers injected a little life into the proceedings. Ultimately what the Pang Brothers give to us is a stone-cold killer who, for various reasons, begins to question the path he’s chosen for himself.
The surprise is that it’s really not that bad: it’s punchy and efficiently directed, and in those brief moments where Cage drops the grimace and stops shooting people he reminds us what a likeable actor he was before action heroism beckoned. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t compensate for what I’ve already said, but this movie wouldn’t have been reviewed if there wasn’t something from the film I didn’t like walking away from it. However, the danger advertised in the title, due to some structural problems and underwritten antagonists, doesn’t even really come into play until a good thirty or forty minutes into the movie. Because think about it: if your job was murder and you needed anonymity you wouldn’t be running around being chased on boats or having stuff explode around you constantly, correct?
In the end, Cage just doesn’t do it for us. He can’t carry a movie anymore. Put him on Alcatraz and give him Sean Connery as a foil and we’re totally there. But, Cage can still make entertaining movies, and Bangkok Dangerous was like visiting Bangkok’s infamous red light district. They paint an explosive picture of the Bangkok underworld, illuminated with neon and saturated in violence. There is a lot of violence in the movie, and blood, as well as some nudity, so I can’t endorse it as a family-friendly film. Human life is treated rather cheaply in this film; a suicide is in the film and the character takes another person’s life as he dies. So, my advice is to show up for the violence, but check yoru brain at the door.