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Mandy’ Delivers A Small Dose Of Cage Rage

Nicolas Cage film plays midnight at Landmark’s Ken Cinema

Photo credit: RLJ Entertainment

Nicolas Cage forges something akin to an Orc sword in the film "Mandy," which plays at the Ken Cinema at midnight on Saturday.

Companion viewing

"Raising Arizona" (1987)

"Wild At Heart" (1990)

"Mom and Dad" (2017)

Actor Nicolas Cage is known for over-the-top performances in films such as “Wild at Heart” and “Raising Arizona.” His latest film “Mandy” comes to San Diego for a midnight show at the Ken Cinema this weekend. But does it live up to its hype?

Cage has a reputation for going bonkers onscreen and “Mandy” has been hyped as the ultimate in Cage Rage. But the fact that some have found the film audacious and extreme says more about the bland mediocrity infecting much of mainstream entertainment than about the film.

The film gives us Cage and Andrea Riseborough as Red and Mandy Miller, a couple leading an idyllic life secluded deep in the woods. But their lives are violently disrupted by Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) and his cultish followers that appear to include some demonic bikers. Red turns into a man on an avenging mission after his wife is taken from him.

This would seem like the perfect set up for Cage to go on a roaring rampage of revenge along the lines of Uma Thurman in the “Kill Bill” films. Director and writer Panos Cosmatos endows the film with a hypnotic visual style and foreboding score that initially pulls us in. The time between Cage pounding down vodka in the bathroom to when he drops acid (roughly about 15 minutes of the film that includes him forging a sword like an Orc) is insanely fun, but sadly there's about 100 additional minutes you also have to sit through.

On a certain level I felt cheated and frustrated that the set up was so good and the pay off so bad. How can you possibly screw up something as fundamental as just letting Cage go crazy? The answer: by being ponderously pretentious and having zero sense of humor.

Cage chewing up the scenery is always a sight to behold. And at its best, in films such as “Wild at Heart,” “Adaptation” “Raising Arizona,” and “Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call,” it's pure cinematic magic. With that said I was looking forward to “Mandy,” which promised Cage Rage of what I was hoping would be epic proportions and for those 15 minutes in the middle of the film it delivers. But sadly the beginning of the film was a slog and the second half a serious letdown. Cosmatos never delivers the over-the-top crazy Cage that I was hoping for, or at least not in the satisfying, crescendo building manner I craved.

But for some, seeing Cage forge a sword and engage in a chainsaw fight might be enough of an attraction to lure them to this midnight screening. And if you do plan to see the film, a midnight screening is the best way to watch. The communal experience of watching Cage go crazy is far more fun that watching alone at home.

But for the best and latest example of Cage's method madness I would suggest that “Mom and Dad” (2017) now streaming on Netflix and Amazon, serves up a better and more entertaining example of Cage Rage.

Actor Nicolas Cage is known for over-the-top performances in films such as “Wild at Heart” and “Raising Arizona.” His latest film “Mandy” comes to San Diego for a midnight show at the Ken Cinema this weekend. But does it live up to its hype?

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