Nicholas Cage has never been known as one of Hollywood’s top names over the course of his career. Cage has some hits under his belt including the likes of the National Treasure franchise, Amos & Andy, and Face/Off just to name a handful. He has also had his share of misses throughout this career. Some of his lesser films include the likes of Bringing out the Dead, Family Man, and Marvel’s Ghost Rider franchise among so many others. Left Behind one of his most recent works was soundly panned by both members of the press and audiences. That movie was released just last year alongside his rather intriguing anti-action/thriller of sorts Dying of the Light. Dying of the Light, released via Lionsgate, is the polar opposite of so many thrillers currently in the market today. One could argue in watching Dying of the Light that it is in fact less an action/thriller and more an allegory of man’s own fight against his own mortality. That argument could be made through just one watch. Writer/director Paul Schrader just happened to use a typical action/thriller backdrop as a means to tell his allegory. Schrader balanced both elements relatively well in his script, proving why the script is the central reason audiences should watch Dying of the Light at least once. Adding to the reasons to check out Dying of the Light is the companion material included as bonuses. The interviews with Schrader, Cage, and his cast mates are the most important of the movie’s bonuses as they shed extra light on the movie and everyone’s reasoning for taking on the project. The deleted scenes are just as important to the whole, as audiences will see. They add their own interest to the story, too. Both of these elements strengthen the argument that a movie, which might not have done so well in theaters, could prove to be better than thought in its home release. Last but not least worth noting of the movie is its pacing. There are some that seem to feel the pacing was choppy at best. But that isn’t the case. The story’s pacing is at a rate that will leave no one feeling (pardon the pun) left behind. Being that no viewer will feel lost, audiences will in turn have an easier time following Schrader’s story and hopefully see for themselves that regardless of fondness for cage or his works, that Dying of the Light is still a movie worth at least one watch.
Dying of the Light is easily one of the most intriguing works in which Nicholas Cage has ever starred. That is saying quite a bit considering his decades-long body of work. Depending on who one asks, this could be good, bad, or a little bit of both. The very fact that responses are so varied proves that Dying of the Light is a movie worth at least one watch, regardless of one’s opinion of Nicholas Cage and his body of work. The central reason that opinions have proven to be so mixed is the movie’s script. A single glance at the story’s synopsis leads one to think that Dying of the Light is an action/thriller. But the reality of the movie is that it is in fact more a deeply introspective drama and an allegory about man’s fight against his own mortality. The script sees Cage’s Evan Lake in an Ahab-esque situation, hunting down a terrorist who years before had held him captive and tortured him all while Lake was fighting his own deteriorating mental state. More specifically, Lake is falling victim to dementia. On the other side, the terrorist, Muhammad Banir (Aleander Karim), is revealed to be fighting his own end as his health is also worsening. Because both men are suffering from their own debilitating conditions, it leads to a showdown that no one would have expected. That first encounter isn’t the pair’s last either, not to give away too much. Banir’s assertion as to why he had been so hard to find surprisingly makes one actually feel a certain amount of sympathy for him just as much as for Lake as he battles his own ailment. While it is central to the success of the movie’s script, it is only one part of what makes the script so important to the presentation in whole. There are other subtle elements of the script that should be noted, too such as the story’s overall low level of violence and its equally subtle filling of what could have been one major plot hole. Both of these elements should be noted, too in the whole of the movie’s script.
The story of Lake and Banir fighting their own internal battles all while facing off against one another is central to the success of Dying of the Light. While it is key to the script’s success, there are more subtle elements to the whole that makes the script work as well as it does. Schrader’s avoids in his script, the violence that is all too common to most action flicks. That isn’t to say that there is no violence in the script. But the nonstop shoot-em-up scenes and explosions that are standard in those movies are nearly nonexistent here. There is only one major gunfight scene. And then there is the movie’s final minutes, which again won’t be given away here. Even there, the script could have called for much more violence and bloodshed. But Schrader avoided that. To that end, it makes the movie that much more worth the watch. On a related note, there is a scene in which Evan and his protégé Milton Schulz (Anton Yelchin) are discussing how lake would get close enough to Banir. Lake points out that he knows he would be frisked so he can’t just go up into Banir’s place and shoot it up. In only a matter of lines, Schrader has managed to fill what would have otherwise been a major plot hole with the utmost ease. Schader’s handling of both elements combines with his handling of the script’s central story to prove unquestionably why the script is key to the success of Dying of the Light and in turn why the script makes the movie worth at least one watch.
The work that went into bringing to life Dying of the Light’s script proved worth it in the end. That is because the script behind this movie makes it well worth at least one watch. It is just one part of what makes the movie worth the watch, though. Now that it has come home on DVD and Blu-ray/DVD combo, it can be said that the bonus material included with the movie makes the movie even more worth the watch. The bonus deleted scenes and interviews with Schrader, Cage, and his cast mates are most worth noting. More often than not, deleted scenes included with movies in their home releases are more or less obligatory additions to said releases. In the case of Dying of the Light the movie’s deleted scenes actually make the movie all the more worth the watch. Those that watch the movie and then its deleted scenes will see a number of scenes that were justifiably cut from the final film and those that really should have been kept it. It’s rare to say such a thing about any movie’s deleted scenes. But it is true in this case. The bonus interviews give even more insight not just into the movie but what drew each individual involved in the film to said work. Also discussed are the thoughts of the cast members regarding one another. Given the remarks in question seem rehearsed at points. But at others, they actually seem genuine. So either way one looks at it, the bonus features included with Dying of the Light still prove in the long run to be collectively just as important to the movie’s success as its script. And as important as both elements prove to be to the movie in whole, there is still one more piece of the puzzle to analyze here. That last piece is the movie’s pacing.
The pacing of the story behind Dying of the Light has been noted by some viewers to be choppy. That is rather interesting considering that in this critic’s view, that is hardly the case. As a matter of fact, the story’s pacing is such that no viewer will be felt *ahem* left behind. As a mater of fact, the story moves at what feels like a rather standard pace, especially in comparison to other more well-known action/thrillers and dramas. The story’s clear scene transitions help with that, too. Because the scene transitions are so clear and the story’s pacing is in fact so stable it rounds back to the movie’s script again, making the movie overall more accessible for audiences. That accessibility makes easier the appreciation of the script for all of its minutia, from the minor details of the writing to the scene transitions themselves and more. The end result of that appreciation is the realization once again that Dying of the Light is indeed a movie well worth at least one watch.
Whether for its script, the bonus material included in its recent home release, or for its pacing, Dying of the Light proves in the end to be one of Nicholas Cage’s more surprisingly intriguing movies. It could be argued with a thorough watch to be one of his few hits albeit a subdued hit. That aside, it still proves to be not just one of his more intriguing starring vehicles, but also a movie surprisingly worth at least one watch. It is available now in stores and online. It can be ordered online direct from Lionsgate’s online store both on DVD and Blu-ray/Digital combo pack at http://www.lionsgateshop.com/search_results.asp?Search=dying%20of%20the%20light. More information on this and other titles from Lionsgate is available online at:
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