Cage’s Rambo Feels Run Down


In the past, director Tim Brown made it his prerogative to dive right into the deep end of various genres. Take his 2017 creature feature horror film, Devil in the Dark, compared to his 2021 family movie, Buckley’s Chance, which followed a boy and his dog in the Australian outback. Almost as if trying to find a comfortable sweet spot between the two, Brown has now landed in the cinematic space of a violent yet fuzzy action-comedy production that centers around criminal organizations and grandfathers with secret pasts.

Filmed prominently in the Cayman Islands, The Retirement Plan hosts a surprisingly notable entourage of names like Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Ernie Hudson, Jackie Earle Haley, Lynn Whitfield, Ashley Greene, Joel David Moore, and the debuting Thalia Campbell. In between the overly cooked, self-aware script and some scenes that just don’t deliver the intensity when it would be the most palpable for the audience, the authentic setting and some surprising character work gives this lethargic film some much-needed life.

Trouble Comes to the Cayman Islands

In a harrowing intro that is only slightly relevant because of a minor (but meaningless) death, a couple’s frantic journey to escape their own violent heist is quickly stopped when they are ambushed by the goons they stole from. The audience is led to believe that this husband and wife will be a concurring presence. But after a scene in which Ashley (Ashley Greene) is blackmailed with her bloodied husband, she travels to the Cayman Islands with two of Donnie’s men in order to get a confidential flash drive back (which the mobsters stole in the first place).

While Ashley becomes an ever present part of the movie from this point forward, the battered husband surprisingly never shows up again. The rest of The Retirement Plan has enough energy to temporarily distract from the disappearance of the character, but not seeing him anywhere by the time the end credits roll proves to be confusing for the story’s overarching family dynamic. We have to assume he’s alive, otherwise this action comedy instead ends as a dark drama.

As one will be able to tell, violence and adult situations have a place in The Retirement Plan. But the revelation that Ashley hid the ever important flash drive in her young daughter’s backpack turns the intensity of this movie up a notch since we are now fusing children into the mix.Related: Nicolas Cage Is a Beach Bum with a Violent Past in the Retirement Plan Trailer

Forcing a Character Into a Mold

Nicolas Cage talking to Ashley
Falling Forward Films / Relativity Media

When it comes to the bright aesthetic advantage of the Cayman Islands and witnessing the free spirited persona of Nicolas Cage’s retired hitman with two personas, The Retirement Plan does temporarily thrive. The cinematography shows off the exotic territory and invites audiences to engage in some visual tourism. The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent star does more than enough to bring forth two personalities that complement these dueling biographies of the one man.

His eccentric mannerisms easily make the character’s presence welcoming but also mysteriously captivating. The one facade with his character that does not stick is when others explicitly compare him to Sylvester Stallone’s Rambo. There is an homage sequence to those generational movies in The Retirement Plan which involves Cage’s character loading different types of guns and equipping body armor, all in a heroic fashion. But when the main hero doesn’t ultimately take the main villain down, the numerous references that try to tell the viewer who he is but end up not showing who he is results in hurting and not helping.

Or maybe it’s just satirical, or meant to illustrate how out of touch the character is in his retirement.

A Gunman and a Girl

Ron Perlman and Thalia Campbell
Falling Foward Films / Relativity Media

Joel David Moore and Lynn Whitfield play two detectives, Fitzsimmons and Drisdale, who have been trailing the film’s main villain, played by Grace Byers, for some time now. Rick Fox plays Christopher, the politician behind the investigation who has ulterior motives and Ernie Hudson has a small part playing Matt’s friend, Joseph.

Besides Hudson’s character, who has a revealing monologue at the very end which puts a unique spin on the entire story, the standout stars of The Retirement Plan have to be Ron Perlman, who plays Bobo, and Thalia Campbell who plays Sarah, Ashley’s young daughter. Bobo is one of Donnie’s top minions and through a stroke of devious luck, takes Sarah as a hostage.

In the midst of this light action flick that has no deeper meaning, we suddenly have two highly juxtaposed characters forming a quasi-friendship through intellectual discussions about Othello, good guys, bad guys, and morals. While Perlman has already proven his chops through his Guillermo del Toro films and of course Sons of Anarchy, this is a great first showing for Ms. Campbell on the big screen and already proves she has range with character and depth. Becoming lost in this Shakespearean subplot will actually have you rooting for Bobo to be redeemed by the end. Until you remember that he is the one who was going to point a gun at a child. Related: Exclusive: The Retirement Plan Filmmaker Tim Brown Dives Into Character Creation in the Caymans

Given the tropical island aura that does its best to take viewers away to a stimulating land of palm trees, seaside cafés, and mayhem-filled marinas, the cheesy gunplay and two-dimensional mobsters do have roots. In saying that, though, there are definitely a number of scenes where the threat or the danger is not well conveyed (like when one of Donnie’s men tries to tell Ashley about the bones he could break in her ankle of all places). These half-hearted attempts all shape-shift into scenes of questionable comedy. The underlying charm of the Cayman Islands does its best to cover the film’s fallacies with its bright skies and warm waters.

Even with Cage, Perlman, and other recognizable names propping it up, The Retirement Plan as a complete cinematic project is very much self-aware of what it’s striving to be with all the meta jokes and the on-the-nose character building. It even knows where it wants to go based on the semi-twist ending that lightly hits on current political trends. Unfortunately, the movie stumbles too many times getting there, and that’s how it will be remembered.

From Darius Films and Productivity Media, The Retirement Plan is now in theaters.

Source link

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.