Veteran CIA agent Evan Lake has been ordered to retire. But when his protégé uncovers evidence that Lake's nemesis, the terrorist Banir, has resurfaced, Lake goes rogue, embarking on a perilous, intercontinental mission to eliminate his sworn enemy. Written by
On 8th Dec. 2014 Cinematographer Gabriel Kosuth published a guest column on Variety.com and wrote that he "...was denied the possibility to accomplish in post-production what is any cinematographer's duty: from the American Cinematographer Manual follows] 'assuring that what audiences will see on cinema and television screens faithfully reflects the 'look' intended by the director'." Kosuth further complained about the significant digital alterations made by the producers to his cinematography in post-production: "The film we shot had images with strong, violent colors and was dark. This one is not. (...) Paul Schrader wanted color to play an unusual, extremely important role in the visual style of his movie. An expressionistic approach where color doesn't just represent moods and feelings, but meanings and symbols. This is why he insisted that color should be embedded in the very fiber of the image - using filters on lenses and colored lights - so that we were not merely catching colors on film, but truly sculpting the picture with color. The moment you try to 're-paint' or modify such a thing, it is supposed to crash to pieces. And this is what has happened to Dying of the Light (2014) - an unpleasant and tragic demonstration of the limits to the so-called wonders of digital post-production. By surgically eliminating the expressionistic color from the image - the pasty yellow-green of the African scenes, the dense sepia-chocolate of the American ones, and the bluish-green from the European ones - an unknown author has offered the public not only a crippled caricature of everything, but a collection of images deprived of soul, emotion and significance. (...) As pretentious as it may sound, the reality is that color affects not only the perception of the artist's world on screen, but the perception of an actor's performance too: Eyes, skin, make-up, hair, come to us in an 'intended' emotional color. (For those who don't believe, try watching Apocalypse Now (1979) in black-and-white.) The unbalancing of a well thought 'color formula' has the effect of mutilating not only atmosphere, composition, and centers of interest in the frame, but also detailed production design, costume and make-up concepts all based on that original formula. I'm writing this letter because I'm trying to understand why would someone deliberately ruin such a visual expression. Just because it's possible? By pushing some magical buttons at a console, or because of some kind of aesthetic Daltonism? Why would someone damage something achieved with unknown effort and sleepless nights? Just because there are people today who cannot take a human activity called artistic creation seriously?" See more »
When the terrorist has his throat cut at the end of the fight scene, the second after his body is turned on the belly, his throat is suddenly shown totally bloodless. See more »
[speaking in front of new CIA recruits]
What the hell are you doing here? Haven't you heard? The CIA fell from the Berlin Wall and all the president's men can't put it back together again! It's broke! Not reliable. Not trustworthy. Can't stand up to the White House. Backstabbers. Watching porn, tapping phones. Best and brightest quit or retired. What in the name of Jesus Christ nailed to the cross are you doing here?
[he and the recruits look at each other in silence]
Because you heard the call. ...
See more »
A dark and brooding affair, Dying of the Light plays out exactly as the title suggests.
This is a dark movie. Not only for its content; it's literally dim for most of the movie. I guess it's meant to provide an atmosphere that parallels what is happening in Evan Lake's (Nicolas Cage) mind, and the murky atmosphere is one of the few things Dying of the Light has going for it. The plot is this: Lake works for the C.I.A. and is experiencing some mental twitches in his old age like hallucinations, lapses in memory, and the works, which obviously isn't ideal for a C.I.A. operative, so he has to go rogue. He has flashbacks to a mission he was part of that scarred his psyche - he was tortured for information, and flashbacks to this scene happen over the course of the movie, and Evan won't stop until he finds and kills his former captor. Nicolas Cage carries this movie on his shoulders because his character is really the only semi-developed part about it. Granted, one interesting character is not nearly enough to save this gloomy mess of a film.
I can't blame writer/director Paul Schrader because he and the producers had some sort of fallout and the producers ended up changing a bunch of stuff in post-production, so I blame the producers. The editing is horrendous, the action sequences are intermittent and awkward, no character other than Cage's is interesting in the least, some scenes are too melodramatic, others are just dull. I mean you can tell this movie has more layers than it lets on, but it never goes deep beneath the surface like you want it to. It plays it relatively safe and straightforward despite having an interesting premise and an empathetic protagonist.
Now, Nicolas Cage can definitely pull off the salt-and-pepper look. Especially when he goes full on Arab (or whatever it was) with a badass goatee and tinted glasses. He really encapsulates the part of Evan, and it's by far the deepest and most flawed character Cage has portrayed in a while. The problem is that we don't see enough of him. We don't have a chance to get attached to this character on more than a surface level because the pacing of this movie is so terrible. On a scene-by-scene basis, it's extremely hard to keep track of what's going on, of what's important and what isn't. It just becomes a headache after a while and you just want to see Cage kick some ass, and he kind of does, for like a minute anyway.
The climax is incredibly underwhelming. It's just like, here, this is the end. There's no impact. No reason to care. The antagonist is garbage. Cage's sidekick is boring. None of it is memorable. The movie has so many cool ideas that it alludes to (Evan's dementia and how it impacts his work) that are never delved into deeper. I wanted to hear more monologues from Cage - more scenes of just him battling his psyche. Anything to pull this movie from boredom. Unfortunately, it never happens.
This movie isn't worth it. Even for die hard Cage fans such as myself, Dying of the Light is hard to sit through despite an engaging performance by Cage. Any time Cage is off-screen, the movie loses all intrigue. That's not a good sign. If only a director's cut was able to see the light of day, then maybe the Dying of the Light wouldn't be such a tedious mess. As it stands, it's just a very forgettable misfire of a film.
54 of 58 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this