Now here is an interesting movie. An American crime drama set in Massachusetts, filmed on location in Bulgaria. When Nicholas Cage is the best thing about your film, you know you are in trouble. There is morbidly bad acting from the very opening scene, which sets up the bad guys, to the very end. There are TV commercials with better performances and more talented actors. However, once “211” gets into the heist and stand-off portion of the flick, the suspense takes over and the many acting failures are momentarily forgotten. “211,” was produced outside the US, and is obviously aiming for the overseas market. It is directed by former snowboarder turned filmmaker, York Alec Shackleton.

What should have been another slow day on the job for officers Mike Chandler (Cage) and son-in-law partner Steve MacAvoy (Dwayne Cameron) turns deadly when they spot a parking violation at a local bank. In the cage of their squad car is 17-year-old Kenny (Michael Rainey, Jr.) who is their ride-along for the day. Inside the bank is a deadly group of mercenaries trying to recoup payment from an overseas deal gone violently wrong. Interpol agent Lisa MacAvoy (Sophie Skelton) advises the chief of police that these killers don’t play by any rule book. When Mike and Steve are caught in the crossfire between other police and the gunfire from the bank, time is of the essence for aid and survival.

There are TV commercials with better performances and more talented actors.

Shackleton also wrote the screenplay which lacks even the most simplistic character development. The script here serves no other purpose than to give characters names and put them in locations where the action will occur. The violence, shootouts, and the suspense of wondering who lives or dies is about the only thing that works here. Aside from a brief conversation Cage and young actor Rainey have about bullying, there is little else to make us care about any of these characters. Shackleton is unable to simplify the complicated scenarios, involving far too many characters for a film that’s only 88 minutes long. Once a respected Oscar-nominated actor, Cage is the only recognizable face in the picture. He has become the definition of an actor for hire who will lend his name to anything these days.

Neither the script nor the performances give the audience a reason to care whether anyone survives, except maybe Kenny. “211” is a film for the casual viewer to land on a decent shootout scene and then quickly forget the title, the characters, and the premise; only that terrorist are shooting at cops. The opening and ending scenes are the worst moments in the entire film. Moments that don’t rely on action, just actors who are not equipped to pull off even the most basic interplay. Shackleton understands how a movie works, but he seems to not have a clue how to deliver anything meaningful from his actors.

Final Thought

Cringeworthy acting subdued only by the 60 minutes of non-stop action sequences.


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