During the first two parts covering the 1980s and 1990s, I established the growing intensity of The Cage and his ability to Rage. The 1990s ended on a stellar high with “Bringing Out the Dead”. How will the noughties and teenies (kill me no, please) fare….
Gone in Sixty Seconds, 2000
…ah. Not very well. When the best thing about the film is Cage’s character name (Memphis Raines – get it? Does it rain in Memphis a lot…I don’t know. I don’t care. Sorry Memphis) you know you have problems. And it’s not for lack of talent. It’s for lack of coherency and anything akin to sense. Want a clue as to how bad it is? It’s not even a quarter of the film the first “Fast and the Furious” film is. On another plus point, Cage is bonkers at times. He might even have thought that this was real…
The Family Man, 2000
What’s this? A romantic comedy drama directed by Brett Ratner? On the plus side, this is almost certainly Brett Ratner’s best film (it doesn’t even touch “Rush Hour” in terms of casual racism for a start). On the down side, it doesn’t really give Cage a chance to display his Rage. But, at least it’s not….
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, 2001
…sweet fucking Christ. I remember when this was first announced and everyone was saying that this would be the film where Cage bagged another Oscar. BEFORE THE FILM HAD EVEN FUCKING BEEN MADE. They were no doubt basing this on the fact that John Madden’s previous film was “Shakespeare in Love”. They were so wrong that the titular Mandolin might as well have been a stringless banjo. Do yourself a favour and read the book. Not that I’m a fan of the book, but the film will bore you senseless.
Christmas Carol: The Movie, 2001
No chance to Rage in this as Cage voices Marley. Really, the only thing you need to know about this is that Kryten co-wrote the screenplay….
I expected so much more from another pairing of John Woo and Nic Cage – especically when it comes to a historical war film about Navajo codetalkers. It’s a pretty average film and should really have been so much better.
Where Nic Cage is primarily on the other side of the camera directing James Franco as Sonny. It’s…well…not very good I’m afraid. And the small part that cage gives himself….yeah. Not very good at all.
This is more like it though. Cage once again dons his acting cape in the dual role of Charlie and Donald Kaufman. I still think that he was perhaps robbed by Adrien Brody for Best Actor, but with Jack Nicholson, Michael Caine and Daniel Day-Lewis also up for the award that year the odds were long. Also, any film set in Nazi Germany that is any good seems automatic favourite for Oscars.
Matchstick Men, 2003
Cage continues to wear his acting cape in this underrated and criminally overlooked film about con artists directed by Ridley Scott. Not only that, but it also allows neurotic Cage to come forward once more. It’s not quite on a par with the fantastic Argentinian film “Nine Queens” from 2002, but it certainly should be regarded as highly as “The Sting” (which, let’s be honest, everyone only really remembers for Marvin Hamlisch/Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” and not for it being quite overlong and cumbersome).
National Treasure, 2004
Whereby Nic Cage plays a modern day Indiana Jones. Pretty much hated by critics but a massive box office success, it is a fun romp. And, unlike some of his other roles, Cage actually looks like he’s enjoying being in some pulp entertainment, and that’s no bad thing at all.
Lord of War, 2005
And if you don’t like Cage in mindless fluff, then this is more your kind of thing. Another overlooked film, “Lord of War” tells the story of the illegal arms trade and the shady deals that they are involved with acting, seemingly, as Government intermediaries. You are not supposed to like or even sympathise with Cage’s character in “Lord of War”. It is supposedly based on real events/stories. Cage is on top acting form once again in a slightly restrained performance – which makes his larger than life character seem all the more real.
The Weather Man, 2005
I’ve still not seen this. Maybe I will, but I’ll save it for a rainy day (Taxi!).
The Ant Bully, 2006
It’s an okay animated film. Urge to Cage rising…
World Trade Center, 2006
So as not to offend anyone, no comment.
The Wicker Man, 2006
After watching this probably three times, I am convinced that it is neither a remake or a reboot. I have come to the conclusion that this is actually a rather genius parody of the Edward Woodward classic. I dare you to watch it for yourself and see if you come to the same conclusion. And make sure you watch the “alternate ending” for added hilarity. Basically, the makers of Scary Movie and the likes of Meet the Spartans – This is how you do parody. You basically just take the piss out of one film by “remaking” it for a laugh. I guarantee you that this film has raised more laughs from people with long attention spans than your films have. Nic Cage is basically a brilliant caricature of Edward Woodward. On acid.
Ghost Rider, 2007
This should have been better than it was. Far better. Cage couldn’t give a damn though. Couldn’t giving a flying damn.
Grindhouse – Werewolf Women of the SS, 2007
He’s only in this short, directed by Rob Zombie, rather than the main films and he plays Fu Manchu. They really should have made this one into a long film rather than “Death Proof”…
Next is based on a P.K. Dick short story called “The Golden Man”. I say based on. It’s as loosely based on that as Daniel Lambert’s trousers are loose on Kenny Baker. Cage doesn’t look like he cares throughout the film and the film is more like a parable for doing work you hate to earn a paycheck. And yes, the film really does end and then rewinds to halfway through just so that things can be done correctly…
National Treasure: Book of Secrets, 2007
Like the first one, only better. This is noteworthy for being Cage’s first sequel.
Bangkok Dangerous, 2008
Another shit film, another remake, and another paycheck film. That said, Cage is sporting an awesome hairdo and one of the directors is called Oxide. 2008 was a quiet year for Cage…this was his only film. A dark year.
My thoughts on Knowing have been documented twice here. It really needs no further bashing, but I will do anyway. Cage is the epitome of a sleepwalker for the whole duration of this film. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that during filming Cage climbed a crane and was found curled up and asleep at the top. Watching Cage put 2 and 2 together was like watching “Full Contact Combat Maths” – strangely compelling but ultimately empty. If only he’d cared. If only he’d taken some pep pills. If only he was fucking awake.
I’ve not seen this, but IMDB says the following: A specially trained squad of guinea pigs is dispatched to stop a diabolical billionaire from taking over the world. . Cage doesn’t voice a big part, and for that reason, I’m out.
Bad Lieutenant, 2009
Formerly “Port of Call New Orleans” and definitely not a remake – more like an equal…or a superior. Werner Herzog gets 20 levels of crazy out of Cage in this. For a reference point, Gary Busey only has 12 levels of crazy and Mel Gibson 18. Yes. That fucking crazy. He’s such a livewire that at times you actually think he’s going to explode….and the TV with it. What makes it even better is that Herzog actually mirrors Cage’s insane performance with some frankly bonkers scene – the dancing corpse being one of those. A spectcular return to crazy.
Astro Boy, 2009
…and another supporting voice role in a film I’ve not seen…and then it’s…
…and the return of pure nutty Cage. I know he’s not the star of the film, but his role as Big Daddy is a memorable one. Cage plays the Cage we know and love and it’s clear he’s not just doing this for the hell of it – he’s doing it because he loves acting. It’s a big “Fuck You!” to the likes of “Knowing” and “Next”.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, 2010
Nic teams up again with the director of the National Treasure film. It’s alright and passes the time and is fun….not enough nutty Cage though.
Season of the Witch, 2011
You’d have thought that the teaming of Nic Cage and Ron Perlman in a 14th Century fantasy adventure from the director of “Gone in Sixty Seconds” and “Swordfish” couldn’t fail. Actually, none of that could possibly work and it’s a huge pile of bumbling jism that is (almost) so bad that it’s amazing. You can see why it was a total flop though.
Drive Angry, 2011
I’m going to end the summary with this as I have not seen any of the films that come after it (I know, my bad). Drive Angry was the second best film of 2011. The only film better than it was “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”. It is hands down the best exploitation film of probably all time. Cage is on form and it was like his whole career was gearing up to this – he perfectly combines elements of his roles in Con Air, Leaving Las Vegas, Bad Lieutenant, Raising Arizona, REAL LIFE, The Wicker Man, Adaptation, Lord of War and probably even Best of Times. He is just the pure epitome of CAGE from minute 1 to minute 100. And what fucking happens? William Fichtner steals the whole thing right from under his nose. Totally Willem Defoe’d him. Not that I care, because Fichtner is also someone I am in total awe of. If Cage had never made another film again, I would seriously watch this over and over.
And that concludes my summary (bar “Justice”, “Trespass” and the “Ghost Rider” sequel). Where next? Well, he currently has three films in post-production – one which reteams him with Simon West, the director of Con Air and another where he’s reteamed with John Cusack. There are four in pre-production, one of which will reunite him with Charlie Kaufman. After that, sequels to National Treasure and Kick-Ass. And, as Arnie, Stallone and Willis have proven, hitting 50 is going to be no barrier at all to being in action films. In fact, it’s possibly only just the beginning…
Note to self: Must add some images later. This is all a bit spartan and really is a disservice to the great man.