So if the story is a been-there-done-that affair, then what's the drawcard? In this case it's the inexplicably good cast. ARSENAL has gathered the big boys, most notably Nicolas Cage in his 11th film in two years - rivalling Eric Roberts and/or Michael Madsen for the title of DTV Star With The Greatest Output - Hell, he's even beaten Forest Whitaker to take the title of Oscar Winner Who's Starred In The Most Nonsense Award.
His brief turn in ARSENAL has him channeling his famously terrible performance for his brother Christopher Coppolla in the pastiche-riddled neo-noir Deadfall in '93 (he's even saved the wig by the look of it). If we're honest though, it's exactly up to the standard we've come to expect from the fallen star; over the top and unchecked. For all his faults, however, there's no denying Cage's stint is probably the best thing about the movie, although one can't help but wonder if it was Miller's design, or the Titan weight of the Oscar winner's presence that kept Cage off the leash, free to do as he pleased?
John Cusack also shows up, lending his name to the credits, presumably because his car needs new brakes, and while he isn't as over-the-top as Cage, his attention seems to be mostly on what the catering truck was serving for lunch. For a performer who is so effortlessly cool, John seems to be sleepwalking through his time in ARSENAL (and just as Cage found a new use for his Deadfall wig, Cusack also dusts off his Drive Hard baseball cap). Nevertheless we'll take a sleepwalking Cusack over no Cusack any day.
Which brings us to Adrian Grenier, former star of Entourage who just can't seem to get any momentum behind him since the HBO show came to a close in 2011 (yeah, it really was that long ago). He is totally miscast as a bitter, exhausted good-guy when in reality he still looks like a frat-boy cruising for chicks on the weekend.
Performances aside the one thing ARSENAL does have going for is its wickedly stylish design. As with almost every Steven C. Miller output (with the exception of Marauders), his substance may be lacking but his eye for a frame is keen. Teaming with director-of-photography Brandon Cox for the third time (their fourth collaboration is due to land imminently) they have delivered another uber-stylish entry into the action cannon. Cox clearly has an eye for action and he captures ARSENAL's surprising brutal sequences with a strange, simple beauty.
Action junkies will have a field day with the R18+ shenanigans, and Cage's off-kilter performance provides a curiosity but there's very little else to watch ARSENAL for.