Arsenal probably would have gone unnoticed by most everyone until it randomly appeared on their streaming platform of choice except for one major detail; Nicolas Cage was reprising his role as Deadfall’s Eddie King, his single most insane character and despite the fact that Eddie suffered a pretty grisly fate in that movie. Unfortunately, despite the presence of Eddie, Arsenal is mostly just a competent but unremarkable crime thriller.
Adrian Grenier stars as JP, who runs a successful construction company in Biloxi, MI while his brother Mikey, played by Johnathon Schaech, has lived a more criminal life, is recently out of jail and in desperate need of money, which puts him back in contact with Eddie King, whom he worked for as a teen. Things go south and Mikey is taken hostage by King and JP needs to gather $350,000 in 4 days or Mikey is dead. There’s nothing that really stands out about the plot as JP works his way up through various criminals to get info on where Mikey is being held, assisted by an undercover cop friend Sal (John Cusack), and eventually there’s a big showdown at the end. There is a bit of style on display when things get intense, like when Eddie viciously beats down various people while coked out of his mind, and things go super slo mo very similar to Dredd and it’s literal drug Slo-Mo but this only happens a few times during the movie.
Probably the biggest disappointment with Arsenal is that there’s not nearly enough Nicolas Cage, which is the main reason any of us would be checking the movie out. He shows up briefly in the opening few minutes but it’s nearly an hour until he appears again. This version of Eddie is also much more subdued than his Deadfall days, although he’s still a coked out wacko, he’s not nearly as off the wall as say, the classic hotel room freakout in Deadfall:
There are a few great bits of Cage Rage on display, like a bit where Eddie reads a letter to his dead brother or yelling at JP in the middle of a barbecue joint but if you were hoping for the next great, batshit insane Cage movie to follow up Bad Lieutenant, this will probably disappoint, although it’s the most Cagey Cage we’ve gotten in a while. The other disappointment is how low key and bland John Cusack is, despite looking like he’s cosplaying as Steven Seagal: Lawman. Cusack and Cage have been seemingly competing over the last few years to see who can be in the worst/craziest movie but here he seems to be sleep walking and doesn’t even have a role in the climactic showdown. Adrian Grenier is pretty bland as well but Johnathon Schaech, who you may know as The CW’s Jonah Hex, actually gives a fantastic performance, one that seems out of place compared to everyone else. It’s desperate and gritty and it feels like it belongs in something more high caliber, like last year’s Hell or High Water.
Arsenal is unfortunately not the magnum opus of crazy that we were hoping for with Nicolas Cage bringing back his most insane character but there is some good nuggets of Cage crazy if you do check it out. I wouldn’t seek it out specifically but if it shows up on Netflix or Amazon or Hulu, it might be worth a watch if you are a true Cage connoisseur.