An estranged father living on the shores of the Cayman Islands gets embroiled in a Miami mafia affair in The Retirement Plan, which is now available to rent on VOD streaming services in select markets. Despite an enigmatic performance from Nicolas Cage, who eats up his screen time as the bad dad beach bum, a myriad of supporting characters and an unnecessarily convoluted plot casts a pall over what should have been a fun island getaway.
The Retirement Plan opens in Miami with Ashley (Twilight‘s Ashley Greene) carting her husband Jimmy (Jordan Johnson-Hinds) away from a botched robbery. Jimmy has scored the film’s MacGuffin – a flash drive belonging to local mobster Donnie (Jackie Earle Haley) – but his accomplice has been killed and he’s been shot in the process.
With Donnie and his legion of goons on their tail, the couple send precocious 11-year-old daughter Sarah (Thalia Campbell) off to the Cayman Islands for safe keeping with the grandfather she’s never met. Unwittingly, she’s also carrying the flash drive… a fact the mobsters are quickly made aware of.
After 15 minutes of convoluted setup, we get to where The Retirement Plan should have opened: Sarah shows up at the doorstep of the grandfather she never met, only to find Cage’s bedraggled Matt asleep on the patio with a bottle of liquor in his hand. Initially dazed and confused, Matt soon warms to the idea
Matt also has to protect his newfound granddaughter from the ruthless killers that begin to show up at his doorstep in search of the flash drive. But unbeknownst to everyone else in the movie, Cage’s character is actually a John Wick-style assassin who has just been called out of retirement for his most important assignment yet. So that’s why he was such a bad dad years back.
This is simple right? The Retirement Plan should be a Midnight Run-style comedy-thriller with Cage’s grizzled veteran and his bright young granddaughter on the run from the Miami mob and bonding as they go along. But like the convoluted opening, the movie quickly gets sidetracked from what should have been its central storyline.
A myriad of supporting characters with their own storylines are introduced in quick succession, and The Retirement Plan gets so bogged down in needless exposition that it never recovers. Tossed into the narrative are: the real Miami mafia kingpin, Hector (Empire‘s Grace Byers), who has a Scarface-like introduction; Matt’s old CIA handler Drisdale (Lynn Whitfield) and her assistant Fitzsimmons (Joel David Moore), who is secretly feeding intel to the mobsters; and a Miami politician (Rick Fox) looking to take advantage of the situation.
The Retirement Plan wants to be an Elmore Leonard-style crime ensemble, but it doesn’t take the time to develop any of these characters to any meaningful effect; instead, they rattle off exposition that no one asked for while Cage’s flavorful bad grandpa sits on the sidelines.
Offering some solid support, meanwhile, is Ron Perlman, who plays a not-so-bright thug named Bobo who kidnaps Sarah. Bobo forms the kind of bond with the young girl that Cage’s character should have had the chance to develop during the film, and Perlman is uncharacteristically sympathetic in the role. Ernie Hudson, too, is fun in too-brief scenes as Matt’s local buddy.
The Retirement Plan moves at a fast enough pace to never turn dull, and while the action scenes won’t compete with John Wick, they’re decently-executed with a surprisingly amount of bloodshed surrounding Matt and his granddaughter. Compared to The Old Way, however, another 2023 Nicolas Cage film of similar quality that pairs the actor with a precocious young co-star, this one feels a little unsatisfying.
Location filming in the Cayman Islands lends some some credibility to what otherwise feels like a low-budget affair, but the scenes set in Miami aren’t nearly as convincing. The Retirement Plan is a passable 100 minutes, lightweight and infrequently fun, but fans of Cage will have more rewarding options to choose from this year.