Arsenal (2017)

  • Time: 93 min
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Director: Steven C. Miller
  • Cast: Adrian Grenier, John Cusack, Nicolas Cage


A powerful action thriller, Arsenal tells the intertwining stories of the Lindel brothers, Mikey (Johnathon Schaech) and JP (Adrian Grenier), who had only each other to rely on growing up. As adults, JP found success as the owner of a construction company, while Mikey became a small-time mobster, mired in a life of petty crime. When Mikey is kidnapped and held for a ransom by ruthless crime boss Eddie King (Nicolas Cage), JP turns to the brothers’ old pal Sal (John Cusack), a plain clothes detective for help. In order to rescue his brother, JP must risk everything and unleash his vengeance against King’s relentless army of gangsters.


  • “Oh, you think we’re even you and I? I know of way we can both earn what we deserve.”

    Nicolas Cage is known for his wayward choice in terms of films recent years. His career had some ups and downs. As a result, the opinions on his acting talent in the world of film lovers are rather divided. His performance as Eddie King, a manic, coke-snorting, aggressive underworld figure, who’s also not afraid to handle opponents in a rough and cruel way, is an exceptional case. At first sight it isn’t a thunderous acting performance that he delivers and it tends to be rather ridiculous. A kind of cartoonish character whose tantrums and neurotic behavior comes across as exaggerated. At first glance he looks like a parody of Tony Clifton (an Andy Kaufman impersonation) with a weird wig, a walrus-like mustache and glued on fake nose. Let him wear some over-sized sunglasses on his fake nose and you’d swear it’s Roy Orbinson. But at the same time I thought he was incomparable. In other words, it’s hard to define Cage’s acting as being woefully bad or masterfully brilliant.

    Unfortunately this isn’t sufficient enough to assess “Arsenal” as an excellent film. The story on its own isn’t really brilliant or innovative. To be honest it’s mostly boring and meaningless. The main characters who actually carry the entire film, with Cage in the background acting as an accessory to flare up the tension with bloody and highly aggressive scenes in slow motion, are JP (Adrian Grenier) and Mikey (Johnathon Schaech). The beginning shows how the two experienced their childhood. A not so rosy picture of two future-less teenagers who spend their time hanging around in an arcade, because it isn’t so pleasant to be at home. One day Mikey comes home and makes a shocking discovery. That’s a crucial moment. From there on their path go into opposite directions. As you can witness when they are adults. JP is the person who walked the honest path. He’s the owner of a successful construction company. Mikey on the other hand, has chosen the side of Eddie King and ends up as a small-time gangster. After being robbed and losing a package of valuable drugs and not being able to pay of the money he owns Eddie, the latter has this masterful plan to arrange the matter. Now the truly honest brother must pull out all the stops to save Mikey. And that’s what this movie is all about.

    The whole movie revolves around the loyalty between the two brothers. Even if Mikey is a loser whose life is a concatenation of making wrong decisions and crime, yet JP remains faithful to him and he does his utmost to free him. And this with the help of Sal, a sort of undercover agent played by John Cusack who’s wearing a bandanna and holding an e-cigarette. The only purpose he has is to provide JP the necessary clues so he can track down those who are responsible. Trust me, it sounds more fascinating than it looks. The initiative to fill the film with bloody, raw violent scenes with lot of blood flowing freely out of inflicted injuries from the victims, won’t ensure that “Arsenal” rises to an acceptable level. And may I also inform the sports fans for a moment? There’s a lot of kicking around, but the film has nothing to do with the famous soccer team.

    Ultimately, “Arsenal” didn’t become the thriller it intended to be. The story was too simplistic, the violence too excessive and the characters too one-sided and uninspired. Strange but true, the only bright spot in this film is the exorbitant and crazy role played by Cage. Normally, the failure of a film is mostly due to the failure of Cage’s contribution. “Arsenal” is in my opinion a low-budget movie with kinda sounding names participating in it. Yet another proof that this isn’t a guarantee to get an excellent end result. Finally, the most striking fact I saw in this film. Despite 23 years passed and the two brothers grew into adult men with graying hair and beard, Eddie King still had the same appearance. Apparently sniffing hallucinogenic drugs has a preservative effect.

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  • 2017’s Arsenal is my latest review. At just over an hour and a half, it feels irrelevant and contains blackish cinematography. More importantly, it’s a turgid, bloody mess.

    Arsenal stars Nicolas Cage and John Cusack. These are two guys you rarely see in commercial movies anymore. They wear sunglasses the whole time, perhaps to indicate that they’re embarrassed to be on screen. I don’t blame them. Arsenal ain’t no surprise sequel to Con Air people.

    Arsenal also stars Adrian Grenier. Like in his TV show Entourage, Grenier’s trouper takes care of, and/or succeeds his older brother. Grenier at age 40, literally looks like he’s in college. Seriously, what’s that dude’s secret?

    Finally, Steven C. Miller is Arsenal’s schlock director. As a D-list monger, he has a routine. His movies mostly have one word titles, his movie posters all have the same Sicario-like resemblance (look at Extraction, Arsenal, and Marauders), and he lets other, Hollywood aspirates write his scripts for him. The only thing missing from Miller’s latest is paycheck happy, Bruce Willis. Oh wait, Willis is set to appear in Miller’s upcoming First Kill. Hmm, I can’t wait for that one.

    In regards to watching Arsenal, you can tell that Steve Miller has a real hard-on for sensationalized violence. He’s “The Joker” or just a joke (subtle musical reference for ya). His film may be listed as a crime thriller but it comes off as nasty horror fare. There’s jilted camerawork, slow-motion images of bullets, and slow-motion depictions of overdone bloodletting. Characters endure beatings and torture so outlandish, you’d think they’d land in a coma (but they don’t). It’s all so perverse and utterly ridiculous.

    The plot, which includes a long-winded flashback between young bros, is about kidnapping, drugs, mob ties, and southern chic (Mississippi to be exact).

    Arsenal has Nic Cage playing a hammy crime boss named Eddie King (that sounds original… not!). He looks like a 1960’s relic with parted mop top and Marlboro mustache in tow. Meanwhile, Jonathon Schaech channels Mikey Lindel, the dude King takes hostage. Schaech with unrecognizable scruff and standoffish demeanor, comes off as the poor man’s Jon Hamm (ha ha). Adrian Grenier (mentioned earlier) takes on the role of JP, a successful business owner who turns cutthroat trying to save Mikey from the clutches of Eddie. Lastly, John Cusack sort of phones it in as blowy confidant and dirty detective Sal. Johnny boy was probably too busy worrying about his Chicago Cubs (and their inevitable World Series title) to push his performance. There’s a shocker.

    In conclusion, I’m not sure why this movie is titled Arsenal. I guess it’s because there are some guns involved. How convenient. How avant-garde. Oh and how the heck did I get duped into paying $7.99 to watch this thing. Ugh! Rating: 1 and a half stars.

    Rating: 1.5 out of 4 stars

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