Movie Review: Arsenal

After the garbage that was Dog Eat Dog comes the next movie in Nicolas Cage’s “Arsenal”. On paper the cast would appear to be strong with names such Cage, John Cusack and Adrian Grenier, but even they can’t save what is a meandering and ridiculous plot. Two tight knit brothers grow up together, but go their opposite ways when they become adults. JP (Grenier) is an owner of a successful construction company, while Mikey (Johnathon Schaech) is a local mobster. Things get complicated when Mikey gets kidnapped and it’s up to JP to get him out of trouble.

The trouble was watching this whole thing play out. The bond of the brothers was pushed, but never elaborated why JP would accept a criminal in his life. Why should the viewer care about Mikey being rescued when his brother doesn’t have a reason to, but forcefully does. Grenier is okay in the role he’s placed in. Schaech looks a lot like Joe Manganiello, unfortunately his acting isn’t that of Manganiello. Cusack plays some sort of an adviser drifter in a role he was clearly miscast. Cage- as has come to be expected in his films- is just a mere caricature in this movie. He plays a mobster boss named Eddie King and even the drastic prosthetic nose and 70’s ensemble isn’t enough to divert from his ham fisted performance.

Just like Dog Eat Dog there was an overabundance of violence, even for a mob movie, with a heavy hand on the slow motion button when it came to depicting the brutal deaths that happen onscreen. Is it to prove some point that the movie is violent and that focusing on it adds excitement? With a plot that’s heavily lacking and non-genuine story, focusing on violence might have been the filmmakers answer to mask the important elements.

The film flounders in its inability to ever allow the audience time to invest in the characters. Aside from JP, everyone is a sleaze and not worthy of the viewers time or effort. JP’s niece Alexis is a junkie that’s plugged into select scenes to show what further disaster this family is. Whenever the writers try and introduce themes or emotional cues to further develop onscreen relationships, such as baseball and arcade theme park, it falls embarrassingly flat.

Arsenal leaves the viewers with little to digest or remember after the credits roll, no matter the blood splatter that hits our screens. Arsenal attempts to load up on the premise of being an exciting thriller, but when the trigger is pressed nothing worthy comes out of that plot.

RATING: 3/10

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Jim Alexander is one of the co-founders of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle (CIFCC). He has been a staff writer at since 2014. He helped develop and host the “Correct Opinion Podcast.” Jim has written for and contributed to the Australian movie site He is the United States Film and Entertainment Reporter for BBC’s 5 Live radio show. In addition to his interest in film, he also hosts the “Bachelor Universe” blog and podcast, centered on the ABC show The Bachelor. Jim graduated with a MA in Journalism from DePaul University. He is a die-hard Chicago Bulls and Bears fan. Born in Chicago, but raised in Poland, he grew up playing soccer and remains an avid fan of the sport. He is passionate about film and strives to incorporate new and innovative ways to present film criticism. He currently resides in a suburb outside of Chicago, IL.
  • Pfc. Parts

    Well, worse than “Do Eat Dog” is pretty bad. I lasted 5 minutes on that one. I like Cage & Cusack, couldn’t watch that film.