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The Real Problem: Tokarev

***Contains Spoilers for Tokarev (aka Rage in some territories)***

Nicolas Cage vehicle Tokarev is a 2014 DTV action thriller. The synopsis, as is, states "When the daughter of a reformed criminal is kidnapped, he rounds up his old crew and seeks his own brand of justice."

Now don't get me wrong. I love this type of mindless action thriller. I like them when they star Cage, Willis, Van Damme, hey, even squishy-mush-face Steven Seagal. They are what they are. Generally the plot revolves around something gone wrong, whether a military incursion, a robbery, it doesn't matter. Quite often our "star" is some sort of misunderstood anti-hero (except Seagal - he seems to insist on being the all American hero, but usually a bit, well, sexual predator-y), guns blaze - the girl is got - yadda yadda yadda.

Happy ending.

So what happened with Tokarev?

The Basic Beats of the Film

Cage is Paul Maguire - reformed mob enforcer type - happily married with a teen daughter and a thriving business.

One night he and his wife attend a dinner party, leaving his daughter and her friends at home.

He is informed mid-dinner that his daughter has been violently kidnapped and her friends hurt.

Maguire gets his old team back together and starts shaking down local hoods for answers.

His daughter turns up dead - shot with a Russian Tokarev pistol.

Maguire and his team start a war with the local Russian mafia.

So this is all pretty reasonable, right? Mis-understood anti-hero? Check. Guns blaze? Check.

Cast and Crew

Cast wise, you have a pretty impressive line up. Heading up is Cage with support from Rachel Nichols (Alex Cross), Peter Stormare (Bad Milo), Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon), and Aubrey Peeples (Sharknado). So a good pedigree of players. It was directed by Paco Cabezas (Penny Dreadful) and written by Jim Agnew (Game of Death). It's all quite notable.

So what makes it such an abomination?

It's the ending.

Most films these days tend to stuff a twist ending in, because M. Night Shyamalan did it once and it worked really well and that's how you become a revered director, until you do it too many times and Mark Wahlberg is talking to plants. But you have to try, right?

Well, you know that trick where a skilled performance artist pulls a table cloth from a heavily glass laden table and nothing topples and everyone claps? Well. It's that. Except instead of a skilled performer it's a cow, and instead of nothing toppling everything breaks, and instead of everyone clapping the movie takes a giant shit on the audience.

So, after the basic beats of the film have set up the expected ending we're here: Maguire's team is dead. Most everyone is dead. Maguire is ready to face off (pun intended) against the incoming Russian mafia with little to no chance of survival, except plot armor in that he's the hero. And then BOOM - Maguire's daughter's friends admit that none of this is true. In fact, at the beginning of the film while Maguire and wife were at the dinner party the three friends were PLAYING WITH GUNS and one went off and oh shit I just shot Nicolas Cage's daughter in the face.

Best pretend it was the mob.

Yes, Maguire's daughter's friend, Mike (Max Fowler - Wolf Hall) shot her in the face with Maguire's own Tokarev pistol.

This culminates in Maguire sort of saying, Welp. Of course when the Russians arrive he puts up no defense and is killed.


A clever twist should involve the story cleverly misdirecting the watcher. Subtle hints should be in play. It should be, and here is the big one, hiding in plain sight. Rewatched The Sixth Sense? Spent the whole movie muttering to yourself how you should have seen that coming a mile off? Wasn't it obvious (in hindsight)?

Tokarev doesn't challenge the viewers, it just lies to them. It drops a bomb that is impossible to see coming, killing any favor it may have gained from the viewer, and leaves you cold. It's ending serves only to undermine the rest of the story, rendering it...

...utterly pointless. 


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