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Cage Match Round 7 – Running with the Devil

Cage Match is an ongoing look at Nicolas Cage’s output from the last decade or so. I’m watching, reviewing and ranking all those movies that barely played in theatres or went straight to DVD. What are these movies all about? Which one is the best? There can be only one true Cage movie of note. Join me and let’s find out together!

Our seventh contender in the Cage is Running with the Devil, a 1hr 40min, 2019 crime drama.

Estimated Budget: Unknown , Gross Worldwide: $111,218

Running with the Devil Review

What’s Cage up to this time?

Cage is The Cook (this is one of those movies that thinks it’s cool to give every character a nickname and flash them on the screen as they are introduced), who is one part of the supply chain for a whole bunch of cocaine. He is asked to sort out some issues in the process that is resulting in the drugs coming in short.

Who else is in the cage?

The cast list for Running with the Devil is actually pretty crazy. The opening credits were almost entirely comprised of names that I recognized.

The other big star besides Cage is Laurence Fishburne. I thought Fishburne may act like this material is beneath him but he is clearly having the best time. His character is introduced jacking it to some strippers and then ejaculating so if you’re been waiting for a movie where Fishburne does that, the day you never thought would arrive is finally here!

You also have Peter Facinelli who you may know as the asshole from Can’t Hardly Wait or Papa Cullen from the Twilight movies. He is maybe in this movie for 90 seconds and makes little impression. Sorry Twilight fans! Twi-hards? Do we call them Twi-hards? Let me know in the comments Twilight fans!

The other big one is Leslie Bibb who was in the first two Iron Man movies but let’s be real, we all of course know her from the motherfuckin’ Midnight Mean Train.

It was written and directed by Jason Cabell, who previously did a movie called Smoke Filled Lungs which has zero reviews on IMDb so it clearly hasn’t been very widely seen.

Is the movie worthy of Cage?

This whole feature has made me think that either my movie standards are too low or I’m just too positive of a human being because here’s another one with low ratings across all platforms that I thought was pretty good!

I’ve seen comments that the movie gets too bogged down with the intricacies of the drug operation but I was into it. It’s like that “How Is It Made?” show except instead of fencing masks or table tennis tables, its cocaine. The plot is very simple, largely showing the steps involved with getting the cocaine from the wild and into people’s noses and the many ways that things can go wrong. There is a bit of a workman-like quality to the story as it moves from beat to beat. It can often feel like you’re listening to a story that goes “and then this happened. And then this happened. And then this happened.” I did find the mechanics of the whole thing interesting, but I do wish there a little bit energy behind a lot of it. There’s a couple “are they going to kill this guy?” scenes that raise a smidge of tension (even though the answer is almost always “yes of course they are”), but things are unfortunately suspense free for the most part.

Running with the Devil has a loooooot of characters in it, but with a runtime of only 100 minutes, very few of them get any time to shine. Fishburne and Cage are the most interesting duo, probably followed by Bibb’s federal agent who chains a snitch up in a warehouse wearing only his underwear because of reasons. In addition to them though, there’s Bibb’s partner (Facinelli), the leader of the whole operation, there’s the father in Columbia (Clifton Collins Jr) who is a part of the operation to support his family, the aforementioned Snitch has a story line, and I’m sure there are others that I’m forgetting. That’s a lot of stories and a lot of good actors taking part in them, but some feel underdeveloped. It’s like a mini-series that had to be condensed into a movie.

The final act is where the bulk of the action/twists/suspense come from and I thought it worked. It was great to see Cage and Fishburne together and the story takes a few turns that I was not expecting. It’s not an action packed movie and remains low key throughout, but it’s not going for that. It’s a slow burn thriller with occasional bursts of energy that I, for the most part, found interesting enough to keep me going.

How Cage-y is Cage?

This isn’t screaming rage Cage. This is seething rage Cage. He gets a few bursts of anger here and there but for the most part, The Cook is a calm and calculated character. Cage does this well and eight movies in, I still don’t see any signs that he is slumming it in these movies.

It’s actually Fishburne who gets to have all the fun here and he is clearly reveling in it. I love me some stoic Morpheus but it’s always great to see him enjoying himself like this. Granted he spends most of his on camera time snorting coke and having sex so what’s not to enjoy?

You bought the blu-ray?! Are there bonus features at least?!

Not a one which is too bad. I would have been interested in hearing a commentary or something. This dude clearly knows a lot about how cocaine is made and I would have been into hearing more on that. Purely for curiosity and certainly…certainly not for “how do I make and sell my own cocaine” purposes. I mean…who would need that right?

Should you get into this cage?

Maybe? It’s a weird one where I enjoyed it, but I can see why a lot of people may not. It’s not crackling with excitement and Cage isn’t there to inject it with energy. Fishburne is certainly lively and the cast is generally solid, but it has a tendency to simply go through the motions and could have used a little more personality. I guess if your friend comes to your house and says “We gotta watch 2020’s Running with the Devil” don’t stop him from putting it on? Is that praise? Whatever man, you can do, FAR, worse than this one.

Where does it rank?

Running with the Devil is the perfect movie to slide into a middle slot in the list. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where it remains until the very end.

As it stands:

Vengeance: A Love Story
Running with the Devil
Left Behind

Running with the Devil Movie Trailer
Published inMovie Reviews

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