Russian lark – Tokarev review


By Richard Haridy
June 16, 2014

In Jason Statham‘s Homefront, it was clearly established that it’s always a bad idea for a villain to mess with our hero’s daughter. In Tokarev, Nicolas Cage gets to play the angry father in a story so formulaic I’m pretty sure a computer wrote the screenplay. He plays a construction magnate named Paul Maguire whose daughter winds up kidnapped. Paul takes off his suit, puts on a brown leather jacket and sets out with his friends to find the kidnappers himself. When her dead body shows up soon after, Paul descends into obsession and begins digging into his own thorny criminal past with the Russian mafia.

While the film is clearly trying to make some kind of real point about how you can’t escape your past, it all comes across as one-note and uninspired. Even the “twist” ending feels like an overly contrived gesture to add some kind of spark to this lifeless flick. The main disappointment of Tokarev, however, is that it turns out to be so unrelentingly bland. Cage strains for gravitas as he mourns for his deceased daughter, but really the picture is just going through the motions. Every step is so frustratingly predictable you end up wishing for the days of gonzo Cage. Sadly, this is a perfect example of a late-career Cage performance: subdued and flat.


Danny Glover and Peter Stormare elevate the feature whenever they are on screen, though if you took a bathroom break at the wrong time you wouldn’t even know they appeared. Young Spanish director Paco Cabezas makes his English language debut here and presents himself as an entirely competent filmmaker. Everything from his action work to some reasonably confident show-off shots sadly place Tokarev in the limbo of not bad enough to be entertaining and not good enough to be watchable in the first place.

Tokarev is by-the-numbers cinema at its most uninteresting and it’s this profound averageness that is so disappointing. If you are going to make a B-grade exploitation piece you need to go for excess and insanity. Tokarev commits the ultimate movie sin: it makes a Nicolas Cage revenge thriller simply boring.


Tokarev will be available from Quickflix on June 18, 2014.

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