A young (almost) former gangland affiliate is in debt to a big, bad crime boss, and is kidnapped, with the only person capable of rescuing him his much more sensible, grounded younger brother.
Inexplicably styled as Rupert Pupkin from The King Of Comedy, Nicolas Cage’s psycho-villain barely even appears here until an hour in. He then delivers a lengthy monologue that is – even by Cage standards – preposterously over-the-top. Playing Mississippi crime boss Eddie King, his mouth foams beneath a quite incredibly fake looking nose and moustache combo: all of which is unintentionally hilarious (although maybe not: who can tell with Cage anymore?), and stands as a lone moment of fun in an otherwise interminably dull, depressingly medicore film.
Had Cage been allowed to do more of this kind of thing, Southern Fury – its title changed for UK release from Arsenal for obvious reasons, although no-one in this film appears to have access to anything more than a handgun anyway – might at least have veered into guilty pleasure territory. Instead it largely focuses on a pair of very-close-but-very-different brothers: one (Adrien Grenier’s JP Lindel) the straight-living owner of a successful construction business; the other (Johnathon Schaech’s Mikey) a teenage tearaway who fell into gang life, never really got out, and now has debts to King that he cannot repay.
As a plain clothes policeman investigating the latter’s sudden disappearance, John Cusack, too, does what he can in a smaller role than he should have been given. But the problem is simply that neither Grenier nor Schaech are anywhere near strong enough to carry a thriller of this kind: let alone one littered with risible dialogue – “Katrina didn’t run us out and neither will Eddie King!” barks Grenier unconvincingly at one point – and dated-looking, budget-bullet-time special effects. The climatic shootout, in particular, is rendered pretty much unwatchable by the snail’s pace at which the brains explode out of people’s heads. And when even the punctured arteries in your film seem to be plodding reluctantly, you know you’re in trouble.
The combined charms of Nicholas Cage and John Cusack might just have been able to save this made-for-VOD thriller, but they are both left on the sidelines.