by Dicky Agustiady
Nicholas Cage is having a bit of a comeback (although he never really went away) lately. He went from a bankable A-list movie star into a movie star of dubious quality (presumably to pay off his castle and dinosaur bones) With an eclectic variety of movies like the bloody and psychedelic “Mandy” to the introspective “Pig”, he is one of the hardest working actors in Hollywood. Now he delivers his most accessible movie to date.
One of the film’s most rousing endorsements is its 100% Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes!
For fans who are worried that they will miss Nicolas Cage’s sometimes over-the-top performances, complete with all the meme-worthy screams and bulging eyeballs, don’t worry.
Director-co writer Tom Gormican has devised a meta concept to give Cage a platform to go nuts and yet it serves the story in a clever way, in the form of Nicky, his alter ego and “evil conscience” who appears to be “Vampire’s Kiss” era vintage Cage. It’s a hoot to watch their interaction but unfortunately Nicky’s appearances are few and far between. Casual fans may not appreciate some of the aspects of this movie or even recognise Nicky. And for those who hated Cage, this movie most definitely is not going to change their mind.
The movie starts with Cage in a downward spiral of his career after he just got rejected from a movie that he really wanted in order to push his career back where it once belonged – during his Con Air and Face/Off years. He also has a strained relationship with his family and daughter, with whom he tried to force his love of “deep” movies like Fritz Lang’s classic 1920 German expressionist film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It’s too bad that they never use Cage’s real son’s name in the movie: Kal-El, the Kryptonian name of the one and only Superman. Maybe it’s a copyright problem, but it would definitely suit this version of Cage as a narcissistic, weird, and loud movie star.
At the end of his rope, he agrees to make an appearance for $1 million at the birthday bash of superfan Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal). It’s never a bad thing to cast the calm Pascal to counter Cage’s zaniness. Pascal really oozes earnestness and innocence in an authentic manner. It never feels forced at all, which is all but surprising because he manages to portray a drug dealer who’s also a Nick Cage fanboy who owns a pillow with Cage’s mug on it and a life-size wax statue of Cage from his Face/Off heydays. Although I wished that Javi’s character arc was more complex, it works well enough and, well, it’s a Nic Cage movie after all.
In the film, Nick and Javi had a bromance going, and it was the highlight of the movie by far. However once the CIA and the spy angle was introduced, the movie started to lose its lustre and became a mere low budget action movie that Cage has been churning up in the past few years. Some of the forced action sequences were not quite up to par, revealing the low budget that this movie tried and nearly succeeded in hiding. It is such a clichéd storyline that it nearly ruined the whole movie.
Thankfully the awesome bromance of Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal did the heavy lifting and definitely saved the whole movie from being a disaster. Overall the movie is entertaining and a wild ride – besides, who doesn’t want Nicolas Cage back into the Hollywood stardom limelight where he clearly still belongs?