BINGEWATCH

Each month, our marathon man runs the cin­e­matic equiv­a­lent of 42.1 kilo­me­tres. Pray for him.

Empire (Australasia) - - Review - WORDS SI­MON CROOK IL­LUS­TRA­TION PETER STRAIN

this month: NI­CO­LAS CAGE DTV MOVIES

IT’S A TOUGH time to be a Nic Cage fan. Af­ter splurg­ing his for­tune on di­nosaur skulls, shrunken pygmy heads and Amer­ica’s most haunted house, Cage’s fi­nan­cial woes have re­sulted in a manic pile-up of DTV re­leases to pay off the debts — this year alone, Cage will blurt out seven movies. Ques­tion is, do the films match the tal­ent? If the fol­low­ing marathon proves any­thing, Cage switches gen­res more times than most peo­ple change socks, swing­ing from hor­ror to thriller, ac­tion to com­edy, biopic to dis­as­ter flick.

Let’s start with a dis­as­ter. And boy, is it a dis­as­ter. USS In­di­anapo­lis: Men Of Courage

(2016) sub­jects Cage to ship­wrecks, sharks and Mi­crosoft Paint-level CGI in a drama­ti­sa­tion of the World War II naval tragedy. Re­mem­ber Quint’s

Jaws mono­logue? There’s more ten­sion in two syl­la­bles of Robert Shaw’s speech than two hours of this ti­tanic mis­fire. Still, Cage puts on a brave face. Or at least a face. Cage is so in­ex­pres­sive he looks like an Easter Is­land Statue con­tem­plat­ing a sudoku.

I’m hop­ing the worst is al­ready over when along comes Left Be­hind (2014), an apoc­a­lyp­tic God­buster de­pict­ing The Rap­ture as a spir­i­tual alien ab­duc­tion. While all non-chris­tians are cursed, the blessed evap­o­rate up to par­adise, leav­ing a crum­ple of clothes where their bod­ies used to be, im­ply­ing heaven is a gi­ant nud­ist colony. Cage’s Ray­ford Steele is pi­lot­ing a pas­sen­ger jet when sal­va­tion strikes, and spends most of his time in the cock­pit, hiding from the rest of the movie.

The un­holy pur­ga­tory con­tin­ues with Pay The

Ghost (2015), which sees Cage search­ing for his son af­ter he’s snatched at a Hal­lowe’en car­ni­val. Pestered by haunted scoot­ers, CG vul­tures and bro­ken-plumb­ing sound de­sign, the hunt leads him to a venge­ful witch. Okay, so the final act plunges into a por­tal of stupid, but the 11 per cent rat­ing on Rot­ten Toma­toes smacks of a crit­i­cal pile-on: it’s an im­per­fectly en­joy­able spook-’em-up.

Paul Schrader’s Dog Eat Dog (2016) spent one lonely day in a Lon­don cinema be­fore va­por­is­ing onto DVD, but I’m so burned out I stick it on in the hope it pro­vides wel­come qual­ity. It does, just. Af­ter three earnest Nic per­for­mances, he fi­nally un­leashes the Hur­ricage as a coke-bog­gled ex-con lead­ing a baby-nap­ping heist. The lurid vi­o­lence sees even the plot run off scream­ing, but the movie zaps with elec­tric, amoral ag­gres­sion.

The buzz doesn’t last. Tokarev (2014) is Cage’s en­try in the Mad Dad genre and is clearly Taken the piss. Con­vinced his daugh­ter’s been murdered by the Rus­sian Mob, Nic puts on his Leather Ac­tion

Jacket, flicks his Elvis hair and goes on the ram­page with a jewel-en­crusted knife. I’m still nurs­ing a bruised nose af­ter its face-palm­ing final twist, but there’s a price­less mo­ment when Cage asks what the kid­nap­pers smell like. “Spicy food?” he screams. “TOO MUCH COLOGNE?”

The thing is with Cage, you’re al­ways primed for that flash of fear­less ge­nius and it hits in Army

Of One (2016). Larry Charles’ biopic tells the ridicu­lous true story of Gary Faulkner, whose plan to kill Bin Laden in­volved hang-glid­ing from Is­rael into Pak­istan armed with a samu­rai sword. Co-star­ring Rus­sell Brand as God, the movie’s a mess, but Cage ex­tracts at least five belly laughs from his berserk, he­lium-voiced take on Faulkner. It’s one of those per­for­mances no other A-lis­ter would even think of — all strange honks, bum notes and squeaky highs, and an­noy­ingly fab­u­lous.

Trag­i­cally, the binge wheezes to a close with

In­con­ceiv­able (2017) — a Nanny From Hell movie that pairs Cage with Gina Ger­shon as a mar­ried cou­ple who un­wisely hire Nicky Whe­lan as a sur­ro­gate mother. It’s tempt­ing to reti­tle this mega-dirge Foetal At­trac­tion but that im­plies ex­cite­ment. I find my­self fix­at­ing on the ex­otic ge­om­e­try of Cage’s hair­line, which seems to re­sem­ble the bat sig­nal. Who knows? Maybe it’s a cryptic cry for help. I know how he feels. USS IN­DI­ANAPO­LIS: MEN OF COURAGE IS OUT NOW ON DVD AND BLU-RAY

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