• Tibor Kljajic

What's All The Rage With Nicolas Cage #1

This is the start of a new series, where we will focus and admire the performances and films of the legend that is Nicolas Cage. One of the most divisive personalities out there, Nic Cage is still acclaimed for his various roles, that have landed him swathes of popularity and awards (and not so much popularity and awards). So what better way to honor one of the greatest actors of all time (in my opinion at least, I love Nicolas Cage) than by going through his filmography and ranking it all collectively in a long laborious session. This marks the inception of "What's All The Rage With Nicolas Cage" (and I hope we can all survive this ordeal).

Every installation of this series will see me rank ten Nic Cage films that I have watched recently from worst to best with their score out of five, with a collective list at the bottom. As we progress, the list at the end will accumulate until we have ranked every Nic Cage film there is, and we can finally rest and feel good about our lives. So without further ado, let us cut the ribbon, and find out what is all the rage with Nicolas Cage.

#10 211 (2018)-0.5/5

This film is a real life depiction of one of the longest and bloodiest police shoot outs in history.

This film made me question my place on this Earth. It was so abysmal, it made me believe in God, just so I could condemn him for this creation.

Who knows why this film was made. Who knows why I, or anyone, would willingly give up their time to watch something that a 12-year-old could achieve with Nic Cage, his wannabe actor friends and a couple o' hookers.

Let's list down the many reasons for why this film is a hunk of shit:

1) The script. First and foremost. The worst part about this film, without a shadow of a doubt. It's so unbelievably lazy and incompetent. The characters speak in ways in which no-one would ever speak (I sure hope this is not how it actually went down in real life). This is where I truly think Nicolas Cage fails. Look, we all love Nicolas Cage. In this, he's certainly the best actor (which isn't saying much), but that script (that godforsaken script) drags him down. He can't act normally with it. He can't even act in a Nic Cage way with it. Not saying this film would be infinitely better with it by any chance, but it would be infinitesimally better.

2) Dwayne Cameron. This dipshit can't act. In the slightest. Whoever told him he could just go dig yourself and him a hole. This guy is "dying" and he can't even feign being out of breath while he tells Nic Cage that he's bleeding out. When he's told by his wife that she is pregnant... Jesus Christ, I would have reacted more truthfully to this total stranger telling me that she is pregnant than this guy does. He pissed me off so much over the course of the film I had to put him as the second most important reason for this film's failure, he is THAT bad.

Also, I'm no doctor or war vet, but I imagine getting shot in the leg doesn't affect you that quickly. I may be wrong, but come on. One of the robbers gets shot about six times and still manages to get into a car and drive away. And this guy can't take one shot clean through his leg?

3) Casting decisions. Not much on this. They got Nic Cage because he's got more debt than Greece and poor guy really needed the cash. The rest are as a result of nepotism, bad variety, and random (I assume) models who think they can pass as actors (two women with massive breasts who only serve as excitement factors for random horny teens who happen upon this film).

4) The editing. Nearly as bad as Gotti. Nearly. Lemme give you two examples. One: Rossi (awful awful character) goes to the gun shop and talks to the gun shop clerk who sold all the equipment to the robbers. Instead of the camera continuing on the gun shop clerk the whole time he is speaking, it cuts basically mid word to the position the camera was moving to regardless, with the gun shop clerk now in a different position. Two: Dwayne Cameron waves at his wife from a car at the same time that Nic Cage puts his hand behind Cameron's seat to start reversing. Shot then on Cameron's wife waving. Then a wide shot of the car that Cameron and Cage are leaving in, Cage starts putting his hand behind Cameron's seat to start reversing, with no wave from Cameron. It's just these little things that are so easy to fix that really take the audience out of the experience.

5) The 'One year later' scene. Goddamn atrocious. The only instance where I thought Cage was shit at acting (it was just an illusion though I know he's the greatest ever).

6) Potential to break away from the script and the true story bull crap and make this train wreck exciting. Let me explain. There were so many, so many instances where I was like: 'Man, at that moment, this film could have been awesome'. How could it have been awesome: if Nic Cage went insane. When Nic Cage is yelling at the police guy about Cameron being shot, I imagined what it would have been like if Cage just took out his gun, shot the four police guys, the surveillance crew behind him, Rossi behind him, and then proceeded to go into the bank and gun down the robbers. How great would that be? But no, he steals a gun and then gets shot almost immediately. Fucking stupid.

7) The Opening Scene. Comically bad. The computer is loading with a transacting slider. Then why the hell is the hacker typing nonsensically? Just unnecessary.

This film is bad. I could write an entire dissertation on how it fails at every single aspect of being a film. It's just a garbled mess of poor editing, extremely poor acting, and a boring, stupid, unexciting plot that makes no sense and has more holes in it than I wish Dwayne Cameron's character had by the end of the film.

#9 Between Worlds (2018)-1/5

When Billie (Penelope Mitchell) falls into a coma after a near fatal accident, she appears to be possessed by the soul of a woman who has unfinished business with the living.

This film... is shit. The directing is shit. The production is shit. The cinematography is bland. And shit. The score is painfully shit. The writing is horrendously shit. The performances are abysmally... you guessed right: shit. Nothing in this film works. If you want to make a film, watch this to know what not to do. The only things this film has going for it is Penelope Mitchell's performance and the plot itself.

The plot, while interesting, is executed in the most lackadaisical and repulsively inept way possible. Essentially, Franka Potente's character Julie has the power to contact the dead or something, but can only do so when being choked. She is interrupted by Cage during one of these sessions and after she asks him to choke her, the ghost of Nic Cage's character's (Joe) wife Mary inhabits Billie's body (who is unconscious after being in a motorcycle accident). Just because you think of a marginally good idea, doesn't mean that the film will come out good. Mitchell's performance, while Marlon Brando-esque in comparison to everyone else, wasn't given a good script to work with so it wasn't able to fully shine. Even when it's revealed that her character is Nic Cage's dead wife, I still didn't believe it because the character of this new Mary was so odd that it seemed fake.

Can we also talk about the bullshittery that is Julie's powers. Excuse me, but what the fuck? She got into a car accident when she was a teenager and now has the power to talk to ghosts and force other ghosts to possess bodies? If she knows she has this power, why didn't she suspect anything when her daughter became a completely different person? Also, why didn't Mary/Billie tell Nic Cage that she was his wife straight away? She gave him a handjob and gave him "goo-goo eyes" (something Nic Cage laughs about for about an hour) and then finally tells him after a couple of days? Okay, sure.

The worst bit about this film though, is Franka Potente. Holy Mary of Christianity she was abysmal. Not one piece of dialogue or action from her landed well. She felt so out of place and I hated the actress for that. I've seen Potente in Bourne Identity and she's great in that. I don't wanna fully blame the script in this occasion though, because the other people were nowhere near as bad as her, and they were regurgitating the same shit as her.

Nic Cage was disappointing here, unfortunately. Sometimes he had good moments, but other times it was just painful and cringey. I didn't like his first sex scene. Watching three sex scenes and two sex montages I was ready to carve out my eyes and burn my skull. Speaking of burning, let's talk about the technical aspects of violence in this film. Gunshot wounds to the stomach, while painful, do not kill you in one microsecond as the movie leads you to believe. I'm sorry I have to refer to a cult classic while comparing this film, but Reservoir Dogs has Tim Roth writhing for hours in excruciating pain after being shot in the stomach. Blood covers the entire city from his wounds. In this film, I couldn't even tell if they had decided to add blood or not because it was so slight. Nic Cage also sets fire to himself at the end of the film. Ignoring the horrific CGI, his skin never seems to burn, despite being alight for about ten seconds before we're cut away from him.

I hate this film and I hate that they have such a potential for a decent film, but it's wasted on people who do not know how to make films and seemed to have majored in incompetency and laziness.

#8 Tokarev (or Rage) (2014)-1.5/5

Tokarev is about Nic Cage playing a reformed criminal who goes back to his old ways when his daughter is supposedly kidnapped by the Russian mob.

Let me preface this as this is the last of terrible Nic Cage films (on this particular list at least): I love Nicolas Cage. He is my favourite actor. But he was not great in this. He wasn't terrible, but he was not great. Okay, that's out of the way, lemme talk about the shitshow that is Tokarev.

This film sucks. The actress playing Nicolas Cage's daughter (the person the whole film revolves around) is horrendous. The story was complete ass. This film was trying so hard to be Prisoners and John Wick so hard and it failed at every turn. While the twist at the end was commendable to an extent, there was no way the viewer could have possibly guessed that (I won't spoil it but it's honestly painfully ridiculous. I didn't even understand what was going on half the time anyway because everyone was mumbling and I couldn't understand shit.

The Russian gang inclusion was so cliché and the fact that it wasn't even pertinent to the story made it that much more fruitless. The henchmen of Nic Cage were jarring and died anyway. Nothing made sense, I couldn't understand what was going on, I couldn't understand the people themselves, the characters sucked, and I didn't care. The majority of this film is just people talking. Forever. The film spent an hour focusing on people telling Nic Cage not to enact revenge. I don't want to see that, I wanna see blood and gore. This film was just boring and it took me four sittings to finish it.

#7 Stolen (2012)-3.5/5

Master thief Nic Cage is released from a ten year prison sentence and must find a way to save his kidnapped daughter after he is told to find the $20 million that put him in jail in the first place.

I went into this expecting it to be shit and be on the same level of incompetence as 211, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Sure, this film isn't great and it's relatively cliché, but I myself thought it was smart as hell. What low budget films like this lack is a sense of continuity and call-backs. Stuff in this film made sense and it didn't feel forced. How did he know how to rob the bank? Thought about it in prison. How did the detective know where to find the crack-addict (forgot his name)? He tracked his previous routes. It's always annoying to watch films where convoluted shit can literally be explained in one line. This film does that and makes sure that it's not annoying. The editing was consistent in fitting the situation which I can appreciate and the opening credits were also fairly good (alongside the ending with the gold which was just really enjoyable, every aspect of it).

Admittedly, however, some parts were weak. The performance from Nic Cage's daughter was half and half; sometimes good, sometimes really bad. The motivation of the crack addict (Vincent, just remembered) was a little iffy but believable to an extent, I guess. The worst part, however, the absolute worst, was the score, bloody hell. From the get go this music was so utterly trash. It sounded like Spy Kids but with a fuckton more trumpets. It never fit the situation and felt so out of place.

Regardless, this film was pretty decent. Considering I was going into this ready to lambaste it, I enjoyed it.

#6 National Treasure: Book of Secrets (2007)-3.5/5

Nic Cage must find the Lost City of Gold to prove his ancestor did not have a part in the assassination of President Lincoln.

The first National Treasure doesn't unleash full Nic Cage. Full Nic Cage doesn't quite erupt here either but we get pretty damn close with the Buckingham Palace scene. This film starts off strongly by following the formula of the first one (which is what we want, the first film is incredible), but when the Nic Cage's mother is introduced, Wilkinson suddenly turns to homicide, and the City of Gold escapade in general, it gets too much. This isn't a bad film, it just isn't that great. Regardless, I still like it.

#5 Moonstruck (1987)-4/5

Soon after Loretta (Cher) is proposed to by Johnny (Danny Aiello), she finds herself falling in love with his brother, Ronny (Cage).

Sadly, Nicolas Cage is the worst part about this film. He picks up speed by the end, but the focus of talent is with the other cast. Cher is stunningly perfect in this role. I've never watched a film of her and didn't even know she was an actress. But after watching this, I can clearly see why she won the Oscar, she was incredible. The mother was good, I guess, but was nowhere near as good as Vincent Gardenia, who was hilariously perfect.

This is one of the greatest scripts ever written in my opinion, and every actor did amazingly well bringing it to life. Like I said, Nic Cage isn't bad, it's just you're not gonna watch this film for him, you're gonna watch it for the other actors' performances and the wonderful dialogue.

#4 Lord of War (2005)-4/5

Nic Cage plays an arms dealer who has to stay three steps ahead of the law to avoid certain persecution.

I love Jared Leto. Dallas Buyers Club is one of the greatest films ever made. Put him with Nic Cage, what's not to like? The Big Short is one of my favourite films ever, and this film is very similar in that regard. It's following someone who works in some shady shit and makes a typically uninteresting or obscure topic into something entertaining and thought-provoking. Arms dealing is in its core not overly interesting, but Nic Cage's character is, and his journey is an absolute spectacle to observe. This film also feels genuine. The dynamic and conflict with the Liberian President seems real. The relationship between Yuri (Cage) and Vitaly (Leto) seems real. The relationship between Yuri and Bridget Moynahan's character seems... believable. All in all, the film does a good job convincing you and being relatively ingenious in documenting this account. It feels rushed though. Not in terms of quality, but rather in terms of the pace. The first half of the film goes past really quickly and establishes Yuri as a serious arms dealer super duper quickly. Valentine is a weird punch in that isn't really developed. Moynahan's part is... believable; just seems like a useless need for relationship tension. But still, this film is good. The script is actually excellent and the acting is not half bad (especially from Cage and Leto, they're both great in their roles). Overall, pretty damn decent.

#3 National Treasure (2004)-4/5

To uncover the acclaimed Freemason's treasure, Nic Cage must steal the Declaration of Independence in an race against his ex-accomplice.

Nic Cage didn't go full Cage in this film. And that's okay. While we all love when Nic Cage goes full Cage, it is nice to see him act like a normal human being and deliver an exciting and surprisingly educational performance in this likewise brilliant film. American history is incredible and heist/puzzle films (when done right) are also amazing. Put all these factors and Nic Cage in, how can you not end up with a great film? There's not much else to say about this film as I would assume every one has watched it, coz how else could you have had a fulfilling childhood?

#2 Leaving Las Vegas (1995)-4.5/5

Ben (Cage) goes to Las Vegas to drink himself to death where he meets and falls in love with prostitute Sera (Shue)

I don't even know what to think of this film. It's brilliant, don't get me wrong, it's just really weird and really sad.

Nicolas Cage is exceptional. He is incredible. While I hated his character for not helping himself through his illness, Cage did a more than fantastic job formulating this naturally very complex and torn character who is split from loving Sera and killing himself. Elisabeth Shue started off quite rocky in my opinion but she really picked up and turned out almost as good. The script was brilliant in my opinion ("Steady as a fucking rock, excuse my French") and Cage could show his madness even within the confines of the script. This is what I love about Cage: he does his own shit. If a script doesn't allow the madman within Cage to shine, you're gonna get an objectively bad performance (211, for example). If you direct him well with no need for dialogue you can still get a perfect performance, and you can direct him with dialogue and get a stupendous performance. He deserved that Oscar, and this film should receive more recognition coz the technical aspects of it was really quite something.

#1 Mandy (2018)-5/5

Red (Cage) goes on a bloody rampage after his peaceful and loving existence with Mandy (Riseborough) is destroyed.

Nicolas Cage is in his absolute prime. He is perfectly suited for this film, no-one could even begin to take his place. The love, the torment, the rage, everything is shown in this performance of a lifetime. This film just makes up rules as it sees fit, redefining the entire concept of experimental film making. But it works so well coz you're just left there with your mouth agape the whole time. The acting is fantastic and the action is absolutely insane. Nothing makes sense but it doesn't matter. Shit happens whenever and it's so awesome you don't care that it's crazy. The use of colour is incredible and the murders are spectacular. The dialogue, when it actually occurs as it's relatively rare in this film, is lengthy to an almost lethargic degree, but contrast that to the action and it pairs amazingly.

Panos Cosmatos does stuff that other writers and directors try to do but fail: character development and motive. The first act is about Mandy. Her character and her relationship with Red. The second act is about Jeremiah Sand. His character and his relationship with the other cult members. The third and final act is about Red. A further development into his character and his revenge on everyone. Amidst the insanity and chaos of this film is a structure that is surprisingly strict and incredibly formulaic.

The performances are perfect. I love Nicolas Cage and this is truly his best work. A problem I had with 211 is that Nicolas Cage talked. Sometimes he's amazing when he does (National Treasure for example), but you have to know when his acting truly comes out, and that's when you tell him to do what he wants with no words. The bathroom scene, for instance. No words, just sounds and emotion. We don't need Red saying how much grief he is in, we can see it.

I love this film so much and while I usually don't agree with the fact that you learn something new every time you rewatch a film, this film is a clear exception. Little details in the script and in the cinematography is very much noticeable when giving it a second shot. I've gone extensively into this film on a separate article if you want to check that out.

And so ends the first What's The Rage With Nicolas Cage. People always laugh when I say Nic Cage is my favourite actor. By watching his whole filmography, I hope to reinforce the fact that he is a genuinely great actor, he's just made some terrible decisions because he's so in debt.


10. 211

9. Between Worlds

8. Tokarev (or Rage)

7. Stolen

6. National Treasure: Book of Secrets

5. Moonstruck

4. Lord of War

3. National Treasure

2. Leaving Las Vegas

1. Mandy

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