Plot: Mike (Nicolas Cage) is a police officer who is quite close with his partner, even off the clock, as he works with his son-in-law, Steve (Dwayne Cameron). The two have what should be a routine day on patrol ahead, but a couple things have happened that will likely spice up that routine. Mike has just learned he will be a grandfather, will delights him to no end, while the partners will be joined by a special guest, a troubled teen assigned to ride along with the officers. The teen is supposed to see the terrors of crime up close and personal, but he has a chip on his shoulder and is resistant to listening to the cops at all. As the day unfolds, will this be another day on the beat or will this be a ride along to remember?
Entertainment Value: This is supposed to be based on the North Hollywood shootout that made national news, but it plays more like a made for tv movie than a factual depiction of the real life events. Nicolas Cage’s deep dive into direct to video movies continues with 211 and while this isn’t the most boring of those efforts, it does little to entertain. The narrative is simple and predictable, hoping the mere presence of Cage will be enough, but it isn’t. The more action driven scenes are at least kinetic, if generic, while the dramatic moments are as dull as dishwater. This includes some violence of course, from gun battles to car chase stunts, which are competent, but not creative or overly memorable. And if you hoped for an epic shootout to cap off the film, no such luck, as the action never rises above basic in this one. The pace is brisk however, so while the movie isn’t fun, at least it isn’t slow. 211 isn’t a terrible movie, but it is like oatmeal, bland and forgettable.
The obvious draw here is Nicolas Cage, who has ramped up his direct to video slate of late and churned out a metric ton of movies. Some of these have been fun, as Cage hams it up or finds himself in some ridiculous situation, but 211 doesn’t push him to go wild or do much of anything, to be honest. He goes a little melodramatic at times, but keeps his wild side reeled in and to me, that was a let down. A film this dull could have used the spark of his madness, so it is a shame he just more or less sleepwalks in the role. Not his worst work by any means, but if you’re hoping for his signature brand of mayhem, not going to happen here. As generic as Cage’s performance is here, he is a charismatic vision compared to the lackluster efforts of his costars. Granted Cage shoulders almost the entire movie, but the rest of the cast does little to bolster his lead and no one stands out as memorable.