Based on real life events, 211 should have enough resources to pool from to make a movie which can have some impact upon the viewer. What you get however is clichés, bland performances and bad writing.
Nicolas Cage stars as retiring officer Mike Chandler who is finally hanging up his hat and is ready to live a quiet life. As with every officer in a film, retirement is basically a code for there is going to be some violence and lots of guns which is exactly what happens. Cage’s career has been on a slide for a while now and he has become somewhat of a meme to fans with some of his over the top acting, which by the way is also disappointingly seen once in 211. Cage doesn’t do badly in this film, but neither is he great, and the writing doesn’t help anyone (more on that later).
We begin in dramatic style with mercenaries, who will eventually try and rob a bank, killing lots of people as they seek answers as to where their money has gone. This obviously leads to a clash with Chandler and his partner/son in-law Steve (Dwayne Cameron) and this is despite Chandler’s daughter Lisa (Sophie Skelton) hating him for how he dealt with her mother’s death, plus she’s also pregnant. Throw into the mix 15-year-old African American Kenny (Michael Rainey Jr.) who ends up in the back of their car and, caught up in the action after hitting back out at bully at school, and you get a mash-up of subplots which ultimately don’t help the story and get easily forgotten. I feel as though the film tried to highlight the racial issues labelled at the police force in the USA, which could have made for some needed interesting dialogue between Chandler and Kenny which just doesn’t occur. They sort of just end up getting on and 211 could have really benefited from exploring this deep issue giving the film more depth and emotion.
The writing is one of the biggest issues, so much of the dialogue is dull and poorly delivered. It feels as though a lot of the cast are reading it directly off a screen to make sure they do not make a mistake, with hardly any emotion. So you find yourself losing interest in the scenes with no action. Some examples include Steve reacting to pregnancy news with a monotone “No way…”, an officer asking about the new guy to get the reply “He’s new”. The action scenes are overall entertaining but also perhaps a bit over the top at times, but it helps to take attention away from the dull dialogue-heavy sequences.
Overall 211’s poor script hinders any potential it could have had, with multiple subplots that go nowhere and you just find yourself not caring about the characters. The action scenes somewhat make up for this but 211 is ultimately an utterly stereotypical police-action film.