Bangkok Dangerous plays it safe

Nicolas Cage is back to his dreary former self – you know, the guy who starred in such downers as “8MM” and “Bringing Out the Dead” – with this tediously monotonous action flick. Actually, describing it as having “action” is charitable.

There are indeed shootouts and chases. After all, Cage plays an assassin – that’s all part of his gig. But twin Hong Kong directors Danny and Oxide Pang don’t bring a whole lot of life to this story of killing. In remaking their own 1999 movie, the Pang brothers have smothered everything in a layer of greenish-gray grit, making even the rare daytime shots look like they’re taking place in the wet, gloopy dead of night. Cage’s hangdog demeanor and constant expression of constipation don’t do much to engage us.

He stars as a hit man named Joe – get it? Like he’s your average Joe, like you could be an assassin, too, if you were to explore your darker impulses. The script from Jason Richman (“Swing Vote”) finds Joe performing that hackneyed one last job when a Bangkok crime boss hires him to take out four enemies. Only, the bad guy turns out not to be as trustworthy as Joe initially thought.

Thankfully, Joe is a creative sort (the drowning in a hotel pool is clever, both in its execution and in the way the scene is shot and edited). But Joe also finds time to mentor a young pickpocket (Shahkrit Yamnarm) he’s hired as his assistant. And he squeezes in some awkward romance with a pretty, perky deaf pharmacist (Charlie Young).

Rating: One and a half stars out of four.

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