Film Reviews

REVIEW: Running With The Devil (2019)

Running With The Devil is the latest addition to the Nicolas Cage library of madness, starring alongside Laurence Fisburne, Leslie Bibb and Cole Hauser. Directed by former Navy Seal and Colombian drug trade advisor, Jason Cabell, this is his first solo directorial effort (following the co-directed Smoke Filled Lungs). 

Opening up with an elaborate introduction that follows the transportation of narcotics as if it were a deleted scene from Goodfellas, Cabell already begins to lay his cards down in regards to how this business works. While the cast does sport the right talent to lift this off the mark, Cabell’s eye is elsewhere. 

The characters are second to the primary objective of the business: transporting contraband from A to B. The main characters here are the drugs themselves and the consequences they inject into their surroundings. Be it from Cage’s “The Cook” or Bibb’s “The Agent In Charge”, it bleeds into their trajectories with no warning of the true peril ahead. This isn’t to say that Running With The Devil takes a Sicario style approach to cartel trading, no, Cabell’s direction and early 00’s influences put this in another bag entirely. 

Fans of sprawling cast thrillers in the vein of Smoking Aces and The Boondock Saints will surely love this squalid entry to the genre. Whilst the freeze frames and title cards do feel dated, Cabell’s committed direction to the tone allow this to play out similarly to Paul Schrader’s Dog Eat Dog. Fishburne, clearly still buzzing off of his John Wick stint, is having tons of fun devouring the frames and characters around him with a transmissible energy that rivals the best of Cage’s infamous melt down performances. 

It is evident that Cabell’s military experience has informed the way procedures and operations move. Taking the time to move between our lead cast and the families behind the scenes of the trade paint a picture of a bigger problem, but unfortunately it all feels too surface level to evoke any real questions. Characters are set up and left behind within the blink of an eye as the stakes are laid bare in the first act, without any real time to know anything personal about our characters. Cage is drawn to be a family man, we only know this from a straightforward dinner scene with his wife. 

It might be intentional to leave our characters as a canvas, amongst the real protagonist of narcotics. When it inevitably goes wrong, my care for their outcome is hardly tangible, which makes it harder to enjoy the dark humour aspects that Fishburne and Cage set out to display.

Running With The Devil may lack a voice beneath the surface but it’s playful style and a standout performance from Fishburne make this at least worthy of adding to your Cage VOD library.

 

My Rating: ★★★

 

 

Directed by: Jason Cabell
Written by: Jason Cabell
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Laurence Fishburne, Cole Hauser, Leslie Bibb

 

 

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