Release year: 2012 • Posted October 5, 2013
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Stolen. I don’t even know where to begin with this movie. I can’t even tell if this movie is a self-aware cinematic work of brilliance or insufferable on every level possible. I just can’t. On one hand, this movie seems more self-aware than Skynet looking in a mirror. Its tongue so firmly planted in its cheek, it looks like it’s miming oral sex. On the other hand it’s a lazy action quilt—a pastiche of what has worked before. Perhaps no love or effort could be mustered at all for this project, like the Jurassic Park 3 of Cage films.
I’m certain I’ve died but am completely unsure if this is heaven or hell.
The film tropes are paraded out like whores in Amsterdam, put on display for your evaluation. At first the film sets itself up to be the most standard of Nicolas Cage constructs: A reformed man getting dragged back into something “one last time.” There’s the relentless cop and his partner. There’s the hot conspirator. There’s the inciting incident that leads to Cage’s incarceration and quest for redemption; the relentless pursuit by the unforgiving detective and his “enforcer” partner, the getting backed into a corner by his best friend who’s now his mortal enemy. And there’s even more! There’s the intrigue of missing money! The peril of the kidnapped daughter! A cell phone that must be answered in eight rings! And why the fuck not it’s also set in New Orleans on Mardi Gras! I’m pretty sure I could edit the exact plot of this movie together with some scotch tape and VHS copies of The Pelican Brief, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Score, and Taken.
The bad guy, Josh Lucas, who you may know from Ang Lee’s Hulk and really nothing else ever, stars as the one-legged, shaggy haired, completely over-the-top bad guy. He mostly drives around for the entire movie doing crazy, over-the-top things and being generally over-the-top. For more information on being over-the-top, watch this movie. He ruins every scene he’s in by trying so hard to act like a villain. It’s the complete opposite approach that Nic takes, who effortlessly becomes the hero from behind.
Really, Cage drives this movie. Lest we forget, feeding movie tropes to Nic Cage is like giving spinach to Popeye. He’s the reason to keep watching. Nic is at home as the retired-but-still-current jewelry thief who’s always one step ahead of everybody and too smart for his own good, in much the same way as this guy. Nothing is a step too far or in the wrong direction.
I think that’s ultimately what makes Nic a good actor: His refusal to question the writing. If he agrees to do a movie, by and large, he commits! His acting thought process must be similar too. “So my daughter is kidnapped by a one-legged former friend and gets driven through Mardi Gras in the back of a taxi while two cops extort me for money I owe the kidnapper, which results in my having to re-rob a bank with a plan I thought up while in jail for failing to rob that very same bank the first time? OK. Great. Let’s focus on the moment before. Really get inside this guy’s head. I should write a fictional character biography to help me focus.”
There’s pride and commitment here. But it’s not the fake kind like when you see a shitty father take his obviously gay son to gymnastics—the real kind like when you see an awesome father take his obviously gay son to gymnastics. I felt like Cage was really into making this movie. Really dug it. Really understood stuff that I didn’t even know was there to understand. Like a Jonathan Livingston Seagull of pulp bullshit, he simply functioned on a higher level of consciousness regarding this schlock then I ever can and maybe ever will.
He sells it.
Is there anything else you can really ask of him? He earned his money here. I’ve always believed that you can write characters into any scenario you want, no matter how implausible, as long as the audience both cares about some of them and that they make decisions that are real and relatable. Well here, I care about Nic and his character’s seemingly endless problems, and, no matter how irrational his decisions are, he sells them so well that I can’t disagree.
- Bad (Could be secretly brilliant, but probably not)
- Nic Cage’s acting?
- Did his performance make the movie worse?
- Absolutely not