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9 Nicolas Cage Films, Brilliant to Bonkers

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Nicholas Cage Raising Arizona image
20th Century Studios

As there is so much to go through, let’s look at nine Nicolas Cage films rated brilliant to bonkers.

Love him or loathe him, there is no denying that Nicolas Kim Coppola, aka, Nicolas Cage, has made some interesting films. And within those films some very interesting performances. He’s won an Academy Award; Golden Globe and been nominated for many other awards. He’s made 110 movies in his career so far that have amounted to over four billion dollars in box office sales worldwide.

He’s been a big hitter in the industry. But not all the films he’s made have been great. Some of them have been absolute turkeys. He’s also pulled off some quite bizarre performances throughout his career. Some of his more recent flops have somewhat overshadowed the genuine great films he has been in. With that in mind, it’s only fair to get stuck into his eclectic filmography.

1. Raising Arizona

This crime comedy pitted Cage with legendry actress Holly Hunter. Written and directed by the Coen brothers it focusses on Cage’s character who’s an ex-convict. He marries a girl and after finding out he’s infertile, they plot to steal a baby. That premise sounds rather dark, but it’s played out light-heartedly.

There are some brilliant over-the-top touches, as you would expect from the Coen brothers. Along with the direction and fantastic script, there is some electric chemistry between Hunter and Cage that adds to the charm of this movie. Yes, it’s a bid mad and some of the performances are over-the-top, but this is one movie where they are one hundred percent needed. Nicolas Cage is full-blown Cage before it was even a thing. A comedy classic.

2. Leaving Las Vegas

This 1995 drama was the film that landed Cage an Oscar and Golden Globe for best actor. The story revolves around the slow demise of Cage’s character into alcoholism after losing his job as a screenwriter. It also explores the relationship he builds with a prostitute, played by Elizabeth Shue. It’s a departure from the more upbeat and eccentric roles that Cage had done before, and a lot of it is quite dark. He plays the role very well, taking the viewer on an exhilarating and dark ride into personal destruction. There’s no wonder Cage won awards for this performance as he delivers a brilliant insight into the downward spiral of a man without hope.

3. Face/Off

This John Woo directed action thriller from 1997 is a cult classic. Not only for all the explosive actions scenes but for the actual story. Even over twenty years since it was released, the concept is still bizarre. Cage and John Travolta play a criminal sociopath and an FBI agent respectively. Cage’s character gets knocked into a coma after revealing there is a hidden bomb. Travolta’s character then undergoes experimental face transplant surgery to infiltrate his gang. Cage then wakes up and forces the surgeon to put Travolta’s face on his.

Now, in real life, this is just silly, but in movie land, it works brilliantly. The film is an action masterpiece with superb choreography, musical score and direction. But the crème de la crème is the acting from Cage and Travolta. They manage to switch between each other’s characters effortlessly to the point you’re not even sure who’s who. This is Cage at his absolute best.

4. Con Air

Another action movie from the 90s, but this time directed by Simon West. This is one of my personal Cage favourites. He plays Cameron Poe; an honoured war hero who is hitching a plane ride home after serving eight years for accidental manslaughter. The problem is the plane ride he’s on is transferring some of America’s most dangerous criminals to a new super-prison. Not surprisingly, the plane gets hijacked, and Cage finds himself caught up in a criminal plot.

There’s plenty of fine action sequences, but also a stellar supporting cast. John Malkovich and Steve Buscemi deliver some excellent performances. Cage ends up being the hero and saving the day (obviously), and he’s the perfect action hero. It’s a more understated performance, but he still delivers the punches and has some cracking one-liners. The bit where he tells one of the convicts to put the bunny back in the box is legendary. Grab a box of popcorn, sit back and enjoy.

5. The Rock

This action flick, along with the previous two films, makes up the final piece of the ‘holy trinity of Nicolas Cage action movies. All three of these films were hugely successful and The Rock is no exception. Set on Alcatraz, the plot follows an ex-soldier who threatens to destroy San Francisco with chemical weapons if his demands are not met. Cue a retired SAS officer (Sean Connery) and an FBI chemist (Cage) to lead a team to save the day. It’s a great movie in its own right with a superb cast.

The script is fantastic, and the direction and action is done with aplomb. Cage plays the role of a slightly crazy chemist, as you would expect. There are moments of cool and calm but also glimpses of pure Cage madness. The famous rocket man scene towards the end of the movie highlights that best. An already great movie made better with Cage in it.

6. The Wicker Man

As we descend our countdown into the realms of bonkers films, we arrive at The Wicker Man. This remake form 2006 is a bit of a turkey. It’s usually an unwise decision to remake a classic movie, and this one proves no different. The story is based around a cop who goes to an island to look for his missing daughter.

Unfortunately, the island is inhabited by neo-pagans, so lots of weird stuff starts happening. The problem is that Cage is not suited to the role. His one-liners don’t work with the films narrative and the whole things come off as unintentionally funny. A prime is an example of this is when Cage’s character is tied to the floor by a group of pagan women. He then shouts, ‘killing me won’t bring back your goddam honey’. You can’t help but laugh. He also dresses as a bear and punches a woman.

And who can forget the bee scene that’s now a world-famous internet meme? This one is worth watching if you need a laugh.

7. Deadfall

This crime drama from 1993 was actually directed by Nicolas Cage’s brother, Chris Copplola. This is another movie that you can’t help but laugh along to. It’s certainly not a comedy. It’s an attempt at crime noir, but it could almost pass as slapstick. This is mostly due to Cage’s conman character. Donning what looks like a wig and moustache, he spends the entire movie having cocaine-infused meltdowns. When’s he’s not screaming at random people, he’s spouting monologues of nonsense and even gyrates with a mattress. Classic Cage.

8. Mandy

This more recent offering features Cage’s character on a mission of revenge. The film is directed by Panos Cosmatos; son of Rambo director George P Cosmatos. It’s a psychedelic horror movie based around a hippie cult who kidnap Cage’s girlfriend. His character goes to seek revenge, but there is so much more to it. Visually, this film is stunning. And Nicolas Cage does a sterling job of slowly going mad as he wreaks his revenge through the cult. There’s plenty of violence and plenty of drugs. It’s almost as its Cage’s whole career was leading up to this performance.

Seeing his blood-soaked character wielding an axe that looks like it’s from Lord of the Rings is sublime. And this is a film that is set in the 1980s. It defies genres and will blow your mind. You can tell that Nicolas Cage knows he is something special here.

9. Mom and Dad

We’ve arrived at the end of our countdown. We’ve seen Nicolas Cage win academy awards and critical acclaim but now we are at the top end of crazy performances. Mom and Dad is a black comedy horror that was released in 2017. What’s interesting about this movie is that Cage delivers one of the most over-the-top performances of his career. But the movie also received critical acclaim. Which can’t be said for all of them.

The story revolves around a virus that makes parents want to murder their children. An interesting premise considering the recent global pandemic, but this is packaged as a black comedy. Nic Cage delivers a maniacal performance that is worthy of an award in itself as he tries various ways to bump off his kids. Selma Blair plays his wife and the two of them have great chemistry. There are many bonkers moments in this film. Highlights include the scene where Cage’s character smashes up a pool table. Another classic is where he and Selma try to blow up their kids in a gas cellar.

This is another of his films that seems like it was written especially for Nicolas Cage. Mad; crazy; unhinged and over-the-top. Just how we like it.


Thank you for reading our article on nine brilliant to bonkers Nicholas Cage films. Do you agree with our list? What would your order be? Did we miss any out? Let us know in the comments below.


Read our Leonardo DiCaprio performance ranking HERE.

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No Time To Die – Review

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James Bond No Time To Die image
Metro Goldwyn Mayer

No Time To Die is the 25th instalment in the official James Bond series. It’s the VERY long-awaited follow-up to 2015’s Spectre. The 6-year gap between the two films is only matched by the same gap between Timothy Dalton’s last outing in 1989’s Licence To Kill and Pierce Brosnan’s debut in 1995’s Goldeneye. Here’s our review of No Time To Die.

SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the film, but if not there are spoilers ahead.

Of course, there are mitigating factors in that enormous gap. Namely COVID. Which made No Time To Die the first major film to delay its release due to the pandemic. Although, this film has had a difficult gestation irrespective of the global situation in the last 18 months. As soon as Spectre was released the speculation over Daniel Craig’s future in the role began. With him initially suggesting he would rather slash his own wrists than play the iconic spy again. He did a mea culpa on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show in August 2017, where he confirmed he would appear as Bond for a fifth and final time. The original director and writer, Danny Boyle and John Hodge, left the project a year later over creative differences. Cory Joji Fukunaga took over as director. While Bond script veterans Robert Wade and Neil Purvis took charge of the screenplay – with a sprinkling of magic from Fleabag’s Phoebe Waller-Bridge.

Delays

Originally slated for release in April 2020, at long last, we finally get to see Daniel Craig’s denouement as 007. His portrayal of Bond has been very much in keeping with the character of Ian Fleming’s original novels. His performances have certainly followed the dramatic lineage of Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton. Rather than the lighter portrayals by Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan. Yet his Bond has displayed a vulnerability only really demonstrated with any plausibility by George Lazenby in his solitary outing as 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

The deference to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is presented in stark relief throughout this 2h43min epic. Making this the longest Bond film in the series. As this was the first film I’ve seen at the cinema since before the pandemic, I was already excited before I even sat down. As a massive James Bond fan as well, I was close to apoplexy! I felt a tangible shiver go down my spine as the iconic gun barrel sequence appeared before we see James cruising around Italy in the classic DB5 with Madeleine Swann at his side. This anticipation was clearly felt by other cinema-goers. They have made No Time To Die break the UK box office record for the biggest opening weekend. It took almost £26m, breaking the record previously held by Skyfall.

I’m not going to spoil the plot for those who’ve not seen it. I had made a conscious decision to avoid spoilers before I went.

A step up?

This film is another shot in the arm for those who see Craig as the definitive Bond. This was aided by a refocusing of the Bond canon after the main tropes of the series were stretched to breaking point by the invisible cars and melting ice palaces of Die Another Day. And then stretched still further by Madonna’s cameo as a fencing instructor. Daniel Craig was given leeway to truly regenerate James Bond for the 21st Century. The stripped-back nature of Casino Royale, without most of the supporting characters that have been a staple of the series like Q and Moneypenny. Gave him licence (pardon the pun) to explore the deepest and darkest recesses of the Bond psyche. Some well-drawn female leads and villains really allowed Craig’s Bond to spar with them with depth and genuine emotion.

That exploration continues and grows in No Time To Die. We get to see an ageing, truly world-weary Bond, whose past he appears unable to escape. This leaves him in a state of almost constant angst. Paradoxically though, we also see him truly relaxed at times. In a way I can’t recall ever seeing James Bond in any of his previous cinematic outings.

Screen time

The issue with that exploration is that a number of characters then have their screen time cut. Moneypenny is reduced to little more than a cameo. And Remi Malek’s Safin is almost secondary as he features in the opening moments as his story is told, but then disappears for what seemed like an eternity. He of course reappears but he almost seems a mild irritation within the plot and merely a conduit to allow us to see the climax of Daniel Craig’s Bond era. It’s a disappointing underuse of a terrific actor. One with a captivating screen presence, who could have been one of the most menacing Bond villains of all time. That said, the influence of his dastardly but highly sophisticated plan is felt by all of the main protagonists. Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld continues to wreak his havoc with malevolent glee from his cell. He again revels in the chaos of his twisted sibling rivalry with Bond.

Lea Seydoux is wonderful again as Dr Madeleine Swann, picking up where she left off in Spectre and giving Bond as good as he gets in every way imaginable.

There are new characters who definitely cut through. Ana De Armas is utterly charming in her relatively brief time on-screen as Paloma, while Lashana Lynch takes no nonsense from Bond as Nomi. She also gives us a potential indicator as to the future direction of the franchise. Which has been the subject of much discussion in all quarters. That debate has even made its way into the political sphere with even Boris Johnson weighing in on what gender the next actor to play 007 should be.

Score

Hans Zimmer’s score is classic Hans Zimmer, adding power and bombast to the usual mix of stunning scenery and brilliantly choreographed stunts. He brilliantly weaves nods to previous entries in the Bond musical tapestry throughout his score. While his cues are always thunderous, they never overpower the action on screen, but do add a sonic rumble that I don’t think has been heard in a Bond score for quite some time. I found Fukunaga’s direction a bit mixed, with some of the cinematography unnecessarily showy. Some of the tracking shots almost gave me motion sickness while some (admittedly beautifully composed) shots of the scenery seemed to have made the edit purely so as whoever the drone operator was could demonstrate their skills.

Duration

The film is much too long, although at no point did I check my watch. It’s not that any of the plot points are superfluous, more that the pacing is a little slow in places. Some of the dialogue feels cliched and clunky, making what is a great story feel a tad generic. Which doesn’t do anyone justice. However, there were some excellent jokes, and I laughed out loud several times. You don’t have to be a 007 super fan to get some of the self-referential humour that they seem to enjoy sprinkling throughout the film.

Billie Eilish’s theme song is a worthy addition to the collection and certainly sits comfortably within the top half of the ‘Bond Theme Chart’. It’s definitely more memorable and evocative than Sam Smith’s ‘Writing On The Wall’ for Spectre. Her voice trembles at times as you can almost feel she recognises the significance of singing the theme for Daniel Craig’s final appearance in the franchise.

It was also very pleasing to see that this film has moved with the times and reflects the world of 2021 with its portrayal of women. Every single female character had a genuine purpose and important role within the plot. While of course, the female actors playing those roles are all irrefutably glamorous and attractive. There was genuine respect and no objectification of women.

Wrapping up

I came out of the screening with mixed emotions. Glad to be back in the cinema on one hand, sad that Daniel Craig’s stint ordering Martini’s was over on the other. I was pleased that such a good climax had been created to bring this era of Bond to a close, and all its story arcs had been brought to conclusions. I’m also excited and apprehensive in equal measure for the future of such an iconic film series. But I was disappointed with some of the characters not getting the necessary screen-time to truly develop their characters. Surprisingly, I was almost tearful at the final few moments, especially as the credits rolled.

Overall, this is a loving homage to the James Bond series, past and present. It’s a solid if unspectacular film in its own right, but the performances of Daniel Craig and Lea Seydoux, as well as the Bond history it wraps itself in, elevate it beyond that.

It’s not Craig’s best Bond film, as Skyfall is almost untouchable in my opinion, but it does bring closure to his tenure in the tuxedo in a manner that should please Bond fans across the board. It also tantalises us as to what the 6th age of Bond will look like. Let the intense speculation begin!


CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 7/10


Thank you for reading our review of James Bond No Time To Die. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.


Check out who we think could be the next James Bond and why HERE.

Read IMDB information about No Time To Die HERE.

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