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The Retirement Plan: Film Review

The Retirement Plan is an entertaining action flick reminding us that truth and forgiveness are keys to achieving a certain kind of peaceful life.

Nothing says, “Hey, let’s wrap up Summer!” like a good ole action-comedy movie starring one of today’s most entertaining and sought-after actors, Nicolas Cage. In The Retirement Plan, he plays a super chill, long-haired beach bum lazily living out his retirement in the Cayman Islands, sleeping off benders on the beach. His plan to spend his days drinking, fishing, and napping the afternoons away is interrupted when the granddaughter he didn’t know he had turns up on his doorstep seeking help because her mother is in trouble; soon after, trouble arrives and dampens their reunion. On the surface, The Retirement Plan looks like an entertaining action flick with a comedically engaging narrative, but it’s really an endearing lesson in how truth and forgiveness can be used as keys to help us achieve that certain kind of peaceful, quiet lifestyle we desire.

The Retirement Plan opens with an air of mystery around Cage’s character, who is known as both Matt Robbins and Jim Benton—it just depends on who is looking for him. When granddaughter Sarah (Thalia Campbell, of A Million Little Things) arrives, she has both names and, as most kids often do, boldly asks her grandfather why he needs and uses two names. Sarah is an intelligently perceptive kid, and really, before Cage can offer up any full explanation, she answers her own questions.

While Robbins/Benton might seem like a harmless, senile old man to most people—because let me tell you, he portrays senility with perfection—he’s actually a highly trained and very deadly (but also very retired) government assassin dubbed “the sneak” by his former co-workers.

He tells Sarah he goes by Matt then lets her in on why he hasn’t been in her life, and on why her mother, Ashley (Ashley Greene, of The Twilight Saga), likely told her that he was dead. “I wasn’t a very good dad,” Cage tells her. He was gone a lot for work, but he also says that when his wife (and Ashley’s mother) got sick, he bolted and left Ashley alone to care for her by herself. It’s no surprise, then, that Ashley built up decades of resentment against him; it’s something we can understand but also tell he truly regrets. He knows he made some uncool decisions but it’s years later and sees that now he has an opportunity to make things right … and he does.

loud and clear reviews The Retirement Plan movie 2023 film
The Retirement Plan (Falling Forward Films)

When Ashley shows up on her father’s doorstep with two criminal enterprise goons as escorts, Robbins learns why Sarah and Ashley are in danger, but not before his own truth unfolds and appears right in front of his daughter’s eyes. Ashley’s perception of the man she thought her father to be shatters and reshapes itself, forever changing their understanding of one another and their father-daughter relationship.  

Ashley and Sarah’s lives are in danger because Ashley’s husband Jimmy (Jordan Johnson-Hinds, of The Endgame), who worked as the driver for a low-level crime boss in a Miami criminal organization, stole a hard drive full of damning information about the organization’s big boss, thinking it would be his leverage to getting “out” of the business altogether; he was wrong. When the organization figures out the kid has what they’re looking for, Sarah is kidnapped and held for ransom in exchange for the hard drive. However, the joke’s ultimately on these not-so-smart criminals, because Robbins’s greatest skill is eliminating dangerous people with stealth and ease, often with comedic undertones. And that’s exactly what he does … very well.

The Retirement Plan has a cast of actors who work well together and complement each other’s styles, and they all do a worthy job of not making their efforts feel unnatural—except for one intentional stunt scene with Nic Cage catching a gun, which is a great example of some well-placed levity. The Retirement Plan also showcases some good stunt work.

Thalia Campbell, who plays granddaughter Sarah, is a little star to keep your eyes on. She has a spark in her nature that really draws you into her role and how she interacts with adults around her. For that matter, there’s something to be said for the way all kids act around adults; it’s just up to us to figure out what that message is.

With Campbell’s character, Sarah, the relationships she develops with her grandfather and, specifically, with Bobo, Perlman’s character, are witty, endearing, and insightful and are rather reminiscent of the relationship between Natalie Portman and Jean Reno in Léon: The Professional. Ron Perlman is exceptionally cast here in this role of crime boss lieutenant-turned-kidnapper-turned-softie.

The Retirement Plan poses some subtle commentary on everything in life revolving around politics, even when you think they aren’t involved. They always are, and in this narrative, everything we experience is politically motivated and orchestrated for the sole purpose of power, as you’ll see for yourself when you watch the movie. It would be very un-dude of me to give you all the deets up front, so I won’t; that’s just not my style! If you’re looking for a clean, fun action flick that’ll make you laugh and keep you entertained à la True Lies, give The Retirement Plan a shot—it’s worth it!

The Retirement Plan will be released in US theaters on September 15, 2023.

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