DOG EAT DOG is akin to noir films of the 1950’s and 1940’s like KILLING THEM SOFTLY is akin to noir of the 1970’s and 1960’s. The kinship doesn’t stop there; DOG is a film that not only is absurdly funny and brutally violent, but it is also an examination of the economy, the justice system, and the blue collar working class.
Filmmaker Paul Schrader is at his best when he dabbles in quasi topical films. Matthew Wilder (who has a voice cameo on the phone during the opening scene) pens a sharply chaotic and humorous script adapted from Edward Bunker’s novel.
Nicolas Cage, Willem Dafoe, and Christopher Matthew Cook headline the film as a trio of career criminals who for an extended period of time have been removed from society and spent time in prison and are now simultaneously readjusting to society while struggling to survive. Their plights are real, as they fight to live in a society that has cast them out and turned it’s back on them.
Cage and Dafoe are on fire. Cage has never been so good. A complete return to his zany and almost abstract form. Willem Dafoe is cinematic treasure. I can’t think of another actor who is a staple in the works of Lars von Trier, Paul Schrader, Abel Ferrara; yet is a viable mainstream draw, showing up in the upcoming JUSTICE LEAGUE.
Much like KILLING THEM SOFTLY; DOG EAT DOG is not a film for the masses (or critics for that matter). For as fun and as topical the film is, it is proud at how perversely humorous and transgressive it is as a whole. DOG EAT DOG is the cinematic answer to the turbulence and dilapidation of contemporary America.
DOG EAT DOG is available on VOD and is now playing theatrically in select cities.