Rage (1972)

This directorial debut of George C. Scott is not a disappointment in his direction of actors and himself; he conducts some effective dramatic sequences, some interesting thrilling scenes and almost creates a relevant story. In simple words: he plays Dan Logan, a rancher who wants to avenge his son’s death during a failed military experiment where both were exposed to a nerve gas that also killed Dan’s livestock. By hearing this summary, one might get easily involved with it but the movie plays it in the wrong way by sticking to a pointless revenge instead of making us relate with the main character.

Since we live in a most politically correct era (I think!), most of the ideas perpetrated in “Rage” are dated, only works because of the 1970’s context where the nation’s leader at the time was Nixon and that same man years later would say that when a president does something that is considered illegal by the eyes of the public then such man isn’t doing anything illegal. Blame all his wrongdoings on the politics, the system and its seduction. The same can be said of Dan. Blame it on the gas exposure, that’s why he reacts in such an uncontrolled way. The example comes from above.

Some viewers have said that they lost sympathy for him after all the innocent he killed (policeman, security officers and such). He lost my attention when he shot a cat that was protecting its owner from Dan’s threats. It gets worse: by the time he’s committed in blowing the laboratory responsible for creating the gas, he enters a room where several animals are locked in cages, future guinea pigs for the company. And do you think Dan sets them free? No, he leaves the place and stick to the plan, probably thinking “You’ve killed my livestock, my sheep’s, you’ll lose yours as well”. It’s understandable that he was under a lot of stress, he feared for his son, didn’t get much information about his condition as he got worsened and wasn’t warned about his death by anyone. But why no try to go through the proper channels? Why not spreading to the media about what was going on? Why not sue the people who got involved in this tragedy?

It breaks my heart to see such a story with plenty of potential going to waste turned into a simplistic and almost silly film. Everything would be in a great tune if it wasn’t for a script that prefers to focus on a dumb revenge instead of being an intelligent picture with a great message to present.

I don’t think Logan was pushed against the wall all that much, and if the character was smart he would find ways to make the military look bad. And here’s a weird plot hole: how in the world the media people knew about his son’s death, broadcasting on the radio about it when the military tried to hide the story at all costs? Just arrest the screenwriter.

Scott’s effort as a director were quite impressive, nice staging of scenes, filled of powerful dramatic moments (the scene where Chris, Dan’s son, goes on shock, twitching in bed was quite scary), and the cast did a good job (Richard Basehart, Martin Sheen, Barnard Hughes, Nicholas Beauvy and Ed Lauter). But the message and the lack of idealism kills any possibility of making “Rage” something worth seeing.