Movie Review: Dog Eat Dog


The title is a lot more intriguing than this movie ended up being. A solid cast of names at the top, lead by Willem Dafoe and Nicolas Cage doesn’t overcome the lack of substance in the plot. A group crazed ex-criminals are hired by the mob to abduct a baby of a rival mobster. It’s as ugly as it sounds. This movie won’t do any favors for the squeamish. Troy (Cage), Mad Dog (Dafoe) and Diesel (Christopher Matthew Cook) are the three lowlife buddies that are looking for that score. Only scum like that would abduct a baby as a “job”. So it’s pretty obvious these won’t be likable characters. Mad Dog is troubled with severe inner demons. Troy is off the rails, but the most composed of them. Diesel is the mob’s hot tempered lackey.

The film starts out with some bloody murders and some trippy visuals. There are several black and white scenes that serve no purpose to be black and white. Then a whole lot of scheming and chatter ensues—the boring kind. The movie lost me in all the nonsensical talk among the characters. Nothing happens for the meat of the movie. It’s a crime drama that doesn’t offer much drama. The gore and violence does crank up towards the end, which is the most exciting point of a fairly dull movie.

This is a dark movie, both thematically and visually. Majority of the film is shot in a dark setting, lightly dimmed. Hard to see the characters and who is talking to who in some scenes. Granted it matches the context of the plot. What it does accomplish well is depict the inner struggle of these characters who are people deeply rooted in the life of never ending crime. A reflection of the underbelly of civilization and their struggle to change their ways. Right before seeing this film I saw an infomercial about “gourmet food” for a natural disaster, which had to be a sign that I wasn’t about to be seeing a high quality movie.

Dog Eat Dog is dark, unpleasant and violent. I was bored early on and didn’t ever fully check back into the movie. The conclusion is fairly predictable based on the set-up from the star. Did you really think they would be rewarded and not screw up? The scenes with Cage and Dafoe are the strongest ones. At least they don’t mail it in performance wise. Not sure who this movie really is supposed to appeal to. Crime drama fans? Fans of Cage and Dafoe? Mobster movie fanatics? The answer is maybe to all those questions. The over saturation of dialogue was unfitting for a movie like this. Grim and lacking imagination.

At the end I was left feeling with a feeling of boredom and slight disgust. I didn’t care for the characters. I didn’t care for the plot. I didn’t care to invest. Neither should you. I don’t have anything more to write on this, as it’s just bland and didn’t inspire me with excitement or frustration. Irrelevance is the worst reaction of them all.

Dog Eat Dog is out now in select theaters and VOD.

RATING: 4/10

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.