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Nicolas Cage stars in a gruesome vigilante flick

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“Rage”

Good (2 stars)

Unrated

Running time: 98 minutes

Distributor: RLJ/Image Entertainment

In recent years, Nicholas Cage has made a lot of mediocre movies, and “Rage” is no exception. This B-movie action flick might be best thought of as an unapologetic rip-off of the Liam Neeson vigilante vehicle “Taken.”

But where Neeson was a retired CIA agent, Cage plays a reformed ex-con. And while the former was frantically searching for his missing daughter, the latter is looking for whoever fired a fatal bullet into the head of his daughter. As for the villains, Taken’s were Albanian sex traffickers while Rage’s are Russian mobsters.

Otherwise, the stories are similar enough to warrant a comparison. At the point of departure we find Paul Maguire (Cage) and his trophy wife, Vanessa (Rachel Nichols), bidding his sweet 16-year-old (Aubrey Peeples) adieu for the evening as they head out to dinner at a local restaurant. The overprotective father makes a point of impressing upon Caitlin’s boyfriend, Mike (Max Fowler), that he doesn’t want any hanky-panky on the premises in his absence.

However, what actually transpires proves to be far worse than anything he imagined, for he gets a call from Detective St. John (Danny Glover) informing him of a break-in back at the house. Turns out that Caitlin’s been kidnapped and, based on the clues supplied by Mike, Paul suspects that her abductors might be the same ruthless Russian gang he’d had the temerity to rip off 19 years earlier.

Sadly, her lifeless body is soon discovered, and all the evidence points to the posse’s kingpin, Chernov (Pasha D. Lychnikoff). So, rather than let the police solve the crime, Paul opts to take the law into his own hands, and rounds up a couple of his tough buddies (Max Ryan and Michael McGrady) before embarking on a revenge-fueled reign of terror armed to the teeth.

Gritty and gruesome, “Rage” is an unapologetic splatterfest featuring pyrotechnics, pistol-whipping, stabbing and slow-motion senseless slaughter murders via sawed-off shotgun. The body count gets pretty high en route to the protagonists’ surprising showdown with Chernov, a barrel-chested Vladimir Putin lookalike.

Think “Taken” with a heckuva twist!

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