We’re finishing this month off with something really special. Yep, it’s a new series looking at some of the most enjoyable media across multiple categories and subjects. Book Genres? Yep. Specific Niche Genres? Absolutely. And you know what we’re starting with? Yes, it’s the patron saint of the internet chaos Nicholas Cage.
Now, Nicholas Cage films run the gauntlet from God awful to goddamn incredible. Action, comedy, adventure, horror, schlocky B movies, the spectrum of Nicholas Cage films is truly its own genre at this point. With his latest film, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, having hit cinemas, now feels like a perfect time to recap some of my favourite Nic Cage freakouts that they managed to catch on film.
What makes Nicholas Cage such an amusing actor to watch? It’s hard to quantify but it’s something not a lot of actors seem to have. Every film you see Nic Cage in, it looks like he’s giving his all and pouring his heart and soul into his acting. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. Either way, it’s enjoyable one way or another.
Most Enjoyable Action Film: The Rock
Yes, welcome to the Rock and all that, rest in peace Sean Connery, you magnificent bastard. We’re not only starting with one of the (if not the only) good Michael Bay films but The Rock is absolutely one of my favourite action films of all time.
For those of you that haven’t managed to catch this yet, The Rock follows Nic Cage’s Doctor Stanley Goodspeed as he’s recruited by the US government for a rescue mission. Disillusioned General Francis Hummel (Ed Harris) has taken over Alcatraz Island and anyone inside at the time is their hostage.
Hummel is using the threat of chemical weapons loaded into rockets aimed at the heart of San Francisco to ransom off the hostages. Why you ask? To compensate the families of the men he lost under his command.
Nic Cage isn’t going it alone against these soldiers however, he’s got James Bond himself – Sean Connery guiding him through Alcatraz and keeping him alive. They’ve got fifteen rockets full of chemical weapons to disable otherwise the US will go scorched earth on them all.
So, what makes this film so enjoyable? Well, it’s the best of Michael Bay without the needless excess of his later films. It’s also paced exceptionally well; it goes from hotel escape to car chase to thrilling race against the clock. Nic Cage isn’t super Nic Cagey in this film, but he is still a commanding premise on the screen amongst other great actors like Connery and Harris.
Most Enjoyable Adventure Film: National Treasure
From Action, we move on to the commonly associated Adventure genre with this 2004 blockbuster. National Treasure sees Nic Cage as globe-trotting historian and treasure hunter Benjamin Franklin Gates as he seeks to steal the Declaration of Independence before fellow treasure hunter Ian Howe (Sean Bean) can steal it first.
Joining Gates on his merry adventure across the world is his tech-savvy friend Riley Poole (Justin Bartha), their prisoner turned love interest Dr Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) and his disapproving father Patrick Henry Gates (Jon Voight). Together they descend into a convoluted web of intrigue and conspiracy involving the Free Masons, Benjamin Franklin and a map hidden in secret on the back of the Declaration leading to a national treasure if you will.
First off, yes, the premise for this film is absolutely ridiculous in the way only poorly thought-out conspiracy theories can be (Sean Bean doesn't even die in this film!). That’s not saying it’s not enjoyable, far from it. The entire film feels like an ode to Naughty Dog’s Uncharted games before they came out, if that were possible.
Nicholas Cage is quite believable as a historian and makes a more engaging and believable treasure hunter than the Nathan Drake we got in the Uncharted film earlier this year which did feel a lot like National Treasure in some respects. While the premise of the film is ridiculous, it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously so that you can still have a good time watching it. That’s the aspect of this film I enjoy most.
Most Enjoyable Comedy Film: Face-Off
Picture this; it’s 1997 and you’re heading to the cinemas to see the latest John Woo film starring John Travolta and Nicholas Cage. You start watching and it’s a typical late nineties John Woo film, there are slow-motion dives, dual pistols the whole bundle. Fast forward thirty minutes and we’ve got Nic Cage and John Travolta pretending to be each other, playing their characters pretending to be each other’s characters. Confused? You’re not the only one.
If you thought National Treasure’s premise was ridiculous, then strap yourself in cause we’re going for a ride. So, *deep inhale* John Travolta plays FBI agent Sean Archer whose son is killed by notorious hitman Castor Troy played by Nicholas Cage. Six years later, Troy has been apprehended by Archer and is knocked into a coma before he can divulge the location of a bomb. Castor’s brother Pollux also knows the location of the bomb and to get the information from him, Archer has to undergo an experimental face transplant procedure to have Castor Troy’s face swapped with his own. He goes into the prison, but uh-oh Castor Troy woke up and double uh-oh, he’s wearing Archer’s face and has killed anyone that knows about the face-swapping procedure. Now Castor is Archer and Archer is Castor to the outside world, the real Archer’s stuck in prison and must find a way to clear his name and recover his true face. Let’s roll a clip so I can catch my breath for a second.
As you may have guessed, this film is a lot of dumb fun. The plot is nonsense that will scramble your brain if you think about it too closely but both Cage and Travolta seem to be having an absolute blast in their respective roles throughout the film. As we can see in the clip above, Cage unleashes his inner Cage throughout the film and it’s so enjoyable to watch him portray this character’s gradual slide into insanity.
Honourable Mention: The Wicker Man
You knew this was all coming and who can blame me when you’ve got Nicholas Cage screaming about bees and attacking people in a bear suit. Watching this film, you can’t help but enjoy how absurd Cage’s performance is and coupled with everything else it’s a perfect concoction for memes.
What are your most enjoyable Nicholas Cage films? Have I missed any out? Let me know down below!
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