I suppose the title “Bangkok Tedious” wouldn’t have sold many tickets, but it’s a much more honest assessment of the flimsy “Bangkok Dangerous,” the latest in a series of films in which Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage dares us to ever take him seriously again.
The Pang Brothers already made this movie in 1999, but they don’t seem to have learned anything from the experience. “Bangkok Dangerous” travels down such well-worn paths that it appears to based on a Mad Lib rather than an actual screenplay. (How do these guys gets so many chances? We’ve already subjected this year to another pointless American remake of their snoozy and inscrutable horror flick “The Eye.”)
Cage plays a nameless assassin who, after a successful gig in Prague, makes his way to Thailand for a new assignment. His somnolent narration tells us that Cage’s gig as a hit man requires him to sleep alone and eat alone, but that he likes it that way.
Would it shock you to hear that, in Bangkok, he decides to rejoin the human race? And that doing so involves teaching his trade to a young street tough (played by Shahkrit Yamnarm) and falling in love with a deaf pharmacist? Would it further surprise you to find out that Cage’s character goes from hunter to prey?
If you consider any of those questions a spoiler, perhaps you have missed seeing any of the four thousand other movies in the last several decades about hit men who discover their humanity by falling in love. They have their own section in your video store. Go rent any of them; they’re guaranteed to be more interesting than “Bangkok Dangerous.” (My own personal preference is the little-seen “Coldblooded” starring, of all people, Jason Priestley.)
Viewers who are fully ready to eschew an interesting plot in favor of pyrotechnics and blood and guts will be disappointed as well. None of the hits are staged particularly interestingly — just because a chase scene is set in a “floating market,” it doesn’t make the inevitable overturning of a fruit cart any less trite — and the film’s pacing is deadly. Huge chunks of the 100-minute running time of “Bangkok Dangerous” could be sliced away with no one in the audience missing them.
And really, what can one say about Nicolas Cage at this point? He’s determined to go his own wacky way, making goofy genre pictures and inflated action epics. But if he’s truly following his own grindhouse heart, why does he appear so bored throughout this movie? And did he actually think that awful rock-and-roll-fantasy-camp hairdo he’s sporting is doing him any favors whatsoever?
If Cage wants to use his clout as an actor and producer (he’s credited with both here) to make down-and-dirty B-movies, then more power to him. But if the results are going to be this unbearable, he’d might as well crank out the Oscar-bait.