There is an alternate universe in which Paul Schrader’s Dog Eat Dog – a brazenly disreputable and vicious crime caper – is a high watermark of postmodern American genre cinema. The veteran director has confessed that the film is a throwaway affair, a reunion with Nicholas Cage in reaction to their 2014 psychological thriller, Dying of the Light, which both disowned after a meddling studio edit. That hasn’t stopped him throwing the kitchen sink at a familiar yarn in the hope of injecting some fresh blood (and there’s plenty of that on show) into old veins. The result is trashy, unhinged, and as complete a mess as you’re likely to see this year.
The director wanted to make a film that no studio would come in and interfere with, but in doing so he’s made something that falls apart at the most fundamental level. None of this is helped by Nicolas Cage. Given that the film was born of the desire to work with Schrader again, it is surprising to learn that in such a raucous and unrestrained piece, Cage turned down the most interesting role and elected to play straight-man, Troy. It’s another of those insipid and utterly forgettable roles for an actor who excels when he’s chewing the scenery.