Dog Eat Dog

The rules of storytelling and good taste go out the window in Paul Schrader's manic crime movie with Nicolas Cage and Willem Dafoe

Film Review by Philip Concannon | 01 Nov 2016
  • Dog Eat Dog
Film title: Dog Eat Dog
Director: Paul Schrader
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Willem Dafoe. Christopher Matthew Cook, Paul Schrader
Release date: 18 Nov
Certificate: 18

Dog Eat Dog is a Paul Schrader film, but not as we know it. From the opening scene, which is reminiscent of Natural Born Killers in its delirious violence, this is a film that hurtles forward with a manic, unflagging energy and a complete disregard for the rules of storytelling or good taste.

Schrader's high-octane adaptation of Edward Bunker's novel reunites him with Nicolas Cage, but it's his regular collaborator Willem Dafoe who steals the movie, with his performance as the unhinged Mad Dog setting the tone for a film that can be simultaneously repellent and hilarious.

Along with the hulking Christopher Matthew Cook, there's a Three Stooges-like quality to this despicable trio as they embark on a lucrative kidnapping venture that can only end badly. The plotting might be messy but it's the style that grips, with Schrader and his young crew ensuring that almost every scene is vibrant, shocking, alive. Dog Eat Dog is the work of a director determined to make the most of his freedom, and it's Schrader's best film in years.