25th Sep2014

‘Tokarev’ Blu-ray Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Nicolas Cage, Rachel Nichols, Max Ryan, Michael McGrady, Peter Stormare, Danny Glover | Written by Jim Agnew, Sean Keller | Directed by Paco Cabezas


It doesn’t bode well for a film when it counts Jim Agnew and Sean Keller as its writers. After all the duo were responsible for penning Giallo, the film that made Dario Argento the laughing stock of Frightfest and sounded the death knell on the career of the once-master of the Italian horror genre. Then again it doesn’t bode well when a film starring Nicolas Cage makes its debut as a direct to DVD title either.

So what’s the spiel? Well:

After a life of crime in his younger years Paul Maguire (Cage), now lives a charmed life. Fully reformed from his old ways, he is now a successful businessman, with a nice house, a lovely wife (Nichols) and a wonderful daughter, who he dotes on. But all that is set to change when his daughter is kidnapped and killed. Hell bent on revenge, nothing will stop Paul in his search to find those responsible.

Er, it seems like someone has misspelt Taken 3; because that’s essentially what Tokarev is – a little more mean-spirited version of Neeson’s action “epic”- but then that’s not necessarily a bad thing… Whilst many have decried Tokarev as one of the worst of Cage’s recent films, and one of Cage’s worst performances, I actually found myself enjoying it much more than the likes of Stolen, Trespass and Justice – at least here Cage gets to unleash his crazier side, which always makes for a more enjoyable movie (yes I am a fan of Cage’s performances in the likes of Ghost Rider 2 and Drive Angry).

Of course no Nicolas Cage film is a “Nicolas Cage film” without a barnstorming performance from the actor. This time round Cage’s performance turns on a dime from the quiet, subdued father who dotes on his daughter, to grieving parent, to movie hard man, to… well let’s just say Cage approaches Wicker Man remake levels of insanity with his performance at times. There’s one scene in particular, which sees Cage grinning like the cheshire cat as he and his cohorts cut a swathe through reams of Russian mobsters, seemingly enjoying the madness a little too much!

If you’ve seen Taken and it’s sequel you know what to expect from this film. It follows the format of grieving father out for revenge almost to a tee, throwing in Russian mobsters, shady pasts and even shadier friends and topping it all with a twist that, compared to Giallo, makes Agnew and Keller’s script for Tokarev seem like a masterpiece. In all honesty it’s the twist that raises the film up a notch, making the story more a discussion on karma: the past always coming back to haunt you and how you can never truly escape from your sins. A real “what goes around comes around” story.

I’m not going to sit here and criticise Tokarev for following the Taken formula. I enjoyed Taken (a lot) and I enjoyed Taken 2 – and this is certainly on a par with the latter.

Tokarev is out now on DVD and Blu-ray from Anchor Bay.


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