Inspired by one of the longest and bloodiest real-life events in police history, 211 – which is police code for robbery in progress – stars Nicolas Cage and is out now.
The Battle of North Hollywood was an armed confrontation between heavily armed bank robbers and the Los Angeles Police Department in the North Hollywood area of Los Angeles in 1997. In the end, perpetrators were killed, twelve police officers and eight civilians were injured, and numerous vehicles and property destroyed by the nearly 2,000 rounds of ammunition fired by the robbers and police. Due to the large number of injuries, the number of rounds fired, the weapons used, and overall length of the shootout, it is regarded as one of the longest and bloodiest events in American police history and sparked the debate on the power of weapons held by police.
Here Cage – who plays a cop caught up in the deadly heist on a routine patrol – talks about 211:
Based on real-life events:
“The screenplay for 211 is inspired by a historical incident in Los Angeles. It was the worst bank heist that the city ever experienced. This real-life scenario was put into the script and is what hooked me. I think that the realism and authenticity are essential.”
Cops vs Robbers:
“The movie is about police against bank robbers, and both sides have motivations that are understandable. The bank robbers, are military men who feel disenfranchised, who feel they made enormous sacrifices and have not been adequately paid for those sacrifices, so they want compensation. In this age in the world that is something people can understand, and regarding the police, there is a brotherhood there, a very close-knit brotherhood. They are under siege, and they are trying to support one another.”
Police under siege:
“We are in a crisis situation where it’s likely that we all might die. We are outgunned. We don’t have the proper equipment to fight back, and these three highly trained, ex-military, bank robbers are hitting us with heavy artillery, and we are underprepared, and we are not getting necessary back up fast enough, so everything unfolds from there.”
Playing a cop again:
“I am always open to all kinds of styles. I am open to heightened reality, larger than life, operatic, and minimal, but for me, the primary concern is that a film has to move, and I think that this movie really moves. But yes I’m drawn to cop movies. I am a fan of the genre. As an actor, I’m inherently attracted to dramatic situations and police stories to bring all the drama and all the action. I want it to move. I want it to have drama and action. And so I find that when I play police officers I am in the middle of all that and it is exciting. It keeps me interested. As soon as I read 211, I sparked to it. It felt like the cop version, of Platoon on the streets. I knew it was real. I knew it was gritty. I knew it was exciting. This movie is unique, however, because I have not played a cop who has been in the middle of a bank heist in a situation like the one that we have when I have a young ride-along, who is in the fray of it all… the gunfire. I thought there was something new here I can play with.”
Working with his son Weston Cage:
“Weston plays Luke, one the bank robbers, and because my character is on the side of the police, our paths never cross on screen, except with bullets. We made a decision beforehand that we are going to stay separate on the set, and get into our characters that way. It is thrilling to be in a movie of this quality with him.”
A Snowboarding director!:
“As far as directors go, York Shackleton’s background is unique. He told me right off the bat that he invented the reverse-backflip on a snowboard. OK… how did he go from that to becoming a movie director? He likes things to move. He loves adrenaline, excitement. I’ve made so many movies now; I always thought that York, being a younger guy coming out of snowboarding and thrill sports would find a new sort of presentation of my performance.”
Filming in Bulgaria:
“I think the locals are very hard-working crew, very much on point, skillful, fast, lots of craftsmanship. Sofia is a great place to make a movie. I always enjoyed filming in Sofia. I like the Bulgarian people. And, I enjoy the food.”
211 is out to download and on DVD now.