Living down to the expectations of a straight-to-video Steven C. Miller (Marauders) movie starring Nicolas Cage and John Cusack released in January, Arsenal occasionally benefits from Cage’s madcap presence, but is mostly a dour bore.
JP (Adrian Grenier) is a nice, polite, boring family man who is forced to act when his older brother Mikey (Johnathon Schaech) botches a drug deal and ends up on the naughty list of coked-out kingpin Eddie King (Cage, reprising his character from 1993’s cult classic Deadfall). JP has four days to rustle up $350,000, or his big bro is toast.
It’s a generic plot with totally boilerplate execution to boot. Though some of Miller’s visuals are suitably grimy, an abusive use of hyper-colour-grading and unintentionally comical slow-motion – including a blast of shotgun shrapnel straight to the dick – mostly cancel that out.
The only real tenet of recommendation here is Cage, who plays his part as bonkers as you’d hope – complete with bowl cut, prosthetic nose and pornstache – even if his appearances are sporadically pigeonholed throughout the film. Only his most dedicated acolytes need apply, and most others should save 85 minutes of their life by watching the highlights on the inevitable “Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit” YouTube video update.
Then there’s John Cusack, who’s clearly embarrassed to be picking up a paycheck here, spending most of his 10 minutes on-screen wearing sunglasses and a black hoodie he presumably wore to the set to avoid detection. There’s phoning it in, and then there’s…this.
And finally, we have Adrian Grenier, who hasn’t exactly had a stellar post-Entourage career, but more than anything he just seems horribly miscast here; too handsome to be a true everyman but too wiry to convince in the action sequences. It’s not really his fault the character is so blandly written, but we can certainly blame him for signing on in the first place.
With comically excessive gore that’s splashed around the screen like an avant garde college art project and touting not a single original bone in its body, Arsenal is just barely watchable white noise thanks to Cage’s zany showing, but you honestly won’t remember this one in a week, if that.
Arsenal is available now on VOD