211 is a heist film written and directed by York Alec Snackleton with lofty hopes of being a great entry in its genre. Unfortunately, those hopes are dashed pretty early on by a script that is fairly bland. The film itself is not incompetently made, it just feels like it hits all the expected notes without deviations, surprises, or any kind of real gusto. The film doesn’t have in twists and turns that are unexpected and while adding the kid to the mix seems like a new idea, he spends most of the film doing nothing at all or just observing what is going on. His fish out of water situation isn’t used to any great effect, leading him to be mostly a plot device for Nicolas Cage’s character to realize some things about himself and his family relationships. However, the plot point of his estranged daughter’s pregnancy paired with almost seeing death up-close should have been enough there. 211 feels like a movie that wanted to be intense and thrilling but the attempts at suspense as well as the violence all fall flat.
Here, the cast’s performances fall fairly flat, no one is particularly egregious but no one is exactly good either. Nicolas Cage is still Nicolas Cage but not fully let loose which can be fun if in the right elements or script like in this year’s Mom and Dad. Here he seems either almost restrained or bored with the occasional small burst of Cage-ness. The best performance in 211 is that of Michael Rainey Jr. as Kenny, the kid sent on the ride-along from hell. His performance is by no means great but it comes off as the best of the film.
The way this film is sot gives it a generic 90s direct-to-videostores action movie vibe. The framing in general and the way director of photography Alexander Krumov shoots the action scenes, paired with the sometimes quick edits, manages to show most of what is going on, giving the film a chance to truly develop on screen and lets the viewer really see most of what’s going on. However, this basically goes to waste in the hail of bullets and with the thin characters and story presented.
211 is an action heist film that comes off as taking itself very seriously which would work if it were a better quality film overall. Here the bullets fly aplenty and the style familiar, the action is there and the look of things is decent, making it feel a bit like old school direct-to-video store. However, the performances are not enough for them to give the film a direction. It all ends up feeling too generic to be memorable in any way. If it has been as cheesy as some of the most fun 90s action films or truly splendidly done like some of the films it’s inspired by, it would have been a much more fun film. As it stands the blandness leads to a fairly boring watch without much really standing out.