Paul Schrader is a Hollywood veteran with a flair for the dark. As the writer of a wide variety of great films as The Yakuza, Taxi Driver, Rolling Thunder, Raging Bull, The Mosquito Coast, The Last Temptation of Christ, and American Gigolo he has brought us deep character driven stories that have lasting appeal. As the director of films such as Hardcore, Cat People, American Gigolo, and Affliction he has shown he has great talent being the lens as well, still managing to bring a dark vision even while wearing a different hat. His latest directorial effort, Dog Eat Dog, is a batshit crazy crime caper starring two of the most insane actors around. And possibly a real return to form for Schrader.
Troy (Nicolas Cage), Mad Dog (Willem Dafoe) and Diesel (Christopher Matthew Cook) are buddies. And career criminals. Now that they find themselves all out of prison at the same time, they are trying to find a way to adapt to civilian life. All three have California’s Three Strikes law looming over their heads, but when an opportunity for one last easy job presents itself, they can’t refuse. But of course things don’t go as expected and the trio find themselves in more trouble than ever and if they are going to avoid spending the rest of their lives in prison, they will have to get very creative sorting out their mess.
Dog Eat Dog is a return to a very 70s style of crime thriller. Even Cage, Dafoe and Cook play their characters very much like 70s characters, the film feels very much out of time. Cage and Dafoe work beautifully together and Dafoe in particular turns in one of the most manic, delirious and hilarious performances in years. Schrader keeps the pace fast, the humor plentiful, the violence high and quite disturbing at times, and the feel original. This film could almost be a modern Tarantino piece; it has that much style, grit and character. For fans of 70s cinema, gritty crime flicks, Schrader himself or stylists like Tarantino, give Dog Eat Dog a shot. Highly recommended.