One man and his scowl vs. Satan
I’ve spent a large percentage of my life – sometimes in the foyers of cinemas, though often within the walls of my own brain – defending Nicholas Cage, making the argument that he’s one of cinemas greatest living talents. “Consider his performance in Leaving Las Vegas or Bad Lieutenant” I propose, more often than not atop the buzz of people pretending to be bees. “Yes he’s been in some bad films too – but that’s what happens when you’re forced to fund your addiction to buying supposed relics from King Arthur’s kingdom!”
More buzzing, more bees, often some laughter. Ah Nicholas, you really don’t make it easy for yourself…
Drive Angry is not a film I imagine I will ever be using in providing a defense of Cage’s thespian chops. In it, Cage plays lowlife John Milton, a (predictably angry) man driving from Colorado to Louisiana in order to stop a religious cult from sacrificing his grandchild to the devil. Directed by Patrick Lussier, it contains a scene where Cage shoots dead six members of said cult whilst drinking Jack Daniels and having sex with a cocktail waitress. It is the sort of scene – and indeed film – that Quentin Tarantino would adore, if only it wasn’t so shiny and new.
Drive Angry is trash. Filthy, sticky, gnawed on by rats trash. But it’s also one of the most exciting things I’ve seen in a cinema so far this year.
Because here’s the thing; despite my arguments outlined prior, Cage fans like myself have long accepted the actor will most likely never get the respect his talents deserve. Judging by his recent roles, you’d imagine he’s come to terms with this too (three months into the year he’s already stared in Season Of The Witch – a film in which he has a row with a wolf – next up is something called, gulp, The Hungry Rabbit Jumps). But the reason Cage fans keep coming back isn’t just to pay of that suit of medieval chainmail he just bought…
No, we come back because there is nobody who makes being an actor look more fun than Nicholas Cage. Even at his most pay-cheque happy, his shear mania for dressing up in a character’s skin is infectious, and while I can name you many bad movies on his CV, I’d struggle to name you a dull one. Drive Angry is neither of the above. It is puerile, tasteless and it makes Machete look like The Pianist. But while it’s never going to validate my claim for Cage’s acting genius, it does everything to substantiate my follow up claim: that Nicholas Cage is Hollywood’s most fun.
Go on, admit it. You want to see it. Me? I’m already getting giddy about Drive Angrier…