The Retirement Plan
Nic Cage is getting too old for this sh*t with "The Retirement Plan."
Film Yap is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
In a year where Nicolas Cage has already played a gunslinger, Dracula and a hood who may or may not be the devil, he brings something new and different to the table with “The Retirement Plan” (now in theaters) by essaying the role of a bad dad hatchet man.
Miami couple Jimmy (Jordan Johnson-Hinds) and Ashley (Ashley Greene) are in over their heads after Jimmy steals a valuable and incriminating flash drive belonging to Donnie (Jackie Earle Haley), the gangster boss for whom he drives.
In hopes of protecting their 11-year-old daughter Sarah (appealing newcomer Thalia Campbell), Ashley puts the girl on a flight bound for the Cayman Islands to stay with her maternal grandfather Matt (Cage). Ashley and Matt are estranged – she hasn’t seen him in over a decade – and Sarah’s never met him. When the girl happens upon her grandpa he’s passed out on a beach with liquor bottle in hand.
Donnie suspects Ashley stashed the flash drive with Sarah so he sends his most trusted enforcer Bobo (Ron Perlman) and scads of men to retrieve it. Little do Ashley, Donnie or Bobo know – Matt’s a retired CIA assassin and he’s apt to run roughshod over Donnie’s dudes.
Rounding out the cast are Ernie Hudson as Matt’s friend and former associate Joseph (he’s a boat-based bro who gets treated much better than Antonio Banderas’ similar character from “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”), Lynn Whitfield as Matt’s CIA handler Drisdale, Joel David Moore as Drisdale’s underling Fitzsimmons, Grace Byers (“The Blackening”) as Donnie’s capo Hector and retired NBA b-baller Rick Fox as Christopher, a politician who somehow got all tangled up in this mess.
As written and directed by Tim Brown, who appears to have a history of making horror and kiddie flicks, “The Retirement Plan” is an action-comedy that plays as a strange cross between a lesser Elmore Leonard adaptation (I’m thinking specifically of 2004’s “The Big Bounce”) by way of the 1985 Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle “Commando.”
Cage is fun in the film. His Matt looks like a cross between Michael McDonald, Nick Nolte’s mug shot and Tom Cruise’s Vincent character from Michael Mann’s “Collateral.” He does some of his patented Nic Cage “mega-acting,” but is also somewhat restrained by comparison to other recent turns.
While I enjoyed Cage, the true standouts are Campbell and Perlman. Campbell is a real find – this little actress has impeccable chemistry with both Cage and Perlman – and is charming at every turn. Perlman brings a surprising amount of sensitivity to the brutish Bobo. His scenes with Campbell are some of the movie’s best.
“The Retirement Plan” isn’t without its faults. Jimmy’s subplot is conspicuously never resolved. Brown and his editors Robert Brakey and Kurt Nishimura employ colorful freeze frames and title cards when introducing characters – a technique that was tired 20 years ago. The f-word is also thrown about a tad too liberally – this is especially true of Haley’s Donnie. I don’t know if this is a knock against Brown’s script or if Haley went off the rails adlibbing. I have no doubt Donnie would spit some f-bombs, but the overabundance of ‘em (I’m talking every other word) rings false.
Despite its drawbacks, “The Retirement Plan” is a good bit of summer fun. It’s probably best enjoyed in the week or so of the season we have remaining, which correlates directly to how long its theatrical run will likely last.