Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Together, these might have made a whole movie: A Nic Cage double feature

Actually, probably not.

If I ever get the stones to just quit my job and write a book, wouldn't a bio of Nicolas Cage be something? This guy started out with some serious cool cred, starred in the funniest movie of all time, then won an Oscar. After that ... whoa. Is he still married to Lisa Marie Presley? I've lost track.

Yet Cage manages to turn in good work every now and then. Sounds like "Bangkok Dangerous" blows, but "Lord of War" was solid. The "National Treasure" movies are mediocre at best, but "Matchstick Men" was all right. "Ghost Rider?" Um, no, but "Adaptation?" Hell, yes.

Sadly, the two movies below fall into the former, lamer category. Are they as bad as I expect the new version of "Bad Lieutenant" to be? Stay tuned.

Bored in 15 minutes: "Gone in Sixty Seconds"

I knew this sucked as soon as I saw the trailer way back in 2000. But I also knew the star power and production values would be solid, so I remained curious. Thanks to the recent free preview weekend -- HBO or Starz, can't remember which -- that curiosity was satisfied.

Wait. Strike that. "Satisfied" is a poor choice. This movie was not satisfying. Not even with Angelina Jolie, who -- damn it -- broke the "show t*ts" rule she had back in the day. B*tch.

Cage is a retired car thief who comes out of retirement to lead a crew that must steal 50 cars in one night or a piece of Eurotrash will kill Cage's little bro (Giovanni Ribisi). Some cars are very rare, and hot on their trail is Delroy Lindo and sidekick Tim Olyphant, a couple of cops. (Delroy. There's a good name if we have a boy.) Our crew of thieves includes Jolie -- with some very unfortunate blonde dreadlocks -- Robert Duvall and a collection of "those guys," such as Scott Caan, Chi McBride, Will Patton and Vinne Jones.

So yeah, decent cast. And lots of vroom, vroom, too. But nobody is doing anything close to acting here, and the action isn't all that great. I also wasn't impressed by the heisting abilities in general; Danny Ocean, these guys ain't. And the lame attempts to add emotion -- brother coming to a brother's rescue, would-be romantic tension between Cage and Jolie -- are just that: lame. But sure, cool leather jacket, Nic.

Actually, I'll stick with what I have: "Next"

The best thing about this movie wasn't even part of the movie. Rather, it was when the lead-in screen came up and it said "Next: Next." Trippy, man.

This movie came and went last year, and a bigger bust in Cage's career might be hard to find. With a budget of $70 million, it looks like it grossed about $12 mil in the U.S. Yow.

Cage is a Vegas magician whose act isn't a trick: He really can see into the future, with limits. Still, it's enough that the Feds -- Julianne Moore, in particular -- want him to help catch some terrorists who have a nuke in L.A. Meanwhile, all Nic wants to do is hang with Jessica Biel, who is the only person he's seen in his future beyond two minutes. Got it? Don't worry.

I'll admit the premise is intriguing, and this movie isn't as bad as it could have been. The seeing-the-future bits, followed by Cage's acting to avoid a future, are kind of neat. But beyond that one-trick pony, the plot is a mess, with villains who aspire to be one-dimensional and Moore looking mostly pained as she pursues Cage. I think I saw her paycheck sticking out from her gun holster at one point.

Other problems: Cage's hair; Biel's willingness not only to hang with Cage but fall for him; an ending that's just kind of there. On the balance, this movie is bad, even if it's not horrible. If only Cage could have seen his future while agreeing to do "Next." He could have saved all of us.


At 10:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you gotta give props to Nic Cage for have the blanck stare down in Next, considering in the PKD story the main character rarely said anything and always looked off in the distance. but that character was also supposed to be a golden adonis.


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