A bolo punch of a reminder that, when not under the evil influence of Jerry Bruckheimer or making films for the financial pleasure of the I.R.S., Nicolas Cage holds sway with the best of them. As Joe, Cage commandeers a backwoods crew of “Timber!” yelling professional nature-killers who poison and hew healthy trees that can then be “legally” sold to lumber mills. This atmosphere-drenched union of debased Southern gothic and pitch-black comedy - a family skinning a deer in the front room has seldom garnered more laughs - could only have come from the mind of David Gordon Green (Snow Angels, Pineapple Express). Cage’s interactions with a cast of (mostly) non-professional supporting players and his unlikely role as father figure to the 15-year-old son (Tye Sheridan) of a monstrous drunk are enough to warrant an enthusiastic recommendation, but an eleventh hour child-in-peril subplot proves almost as toxic as Joe’s forestry skills. (2014) — Scott Marks
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