It’s always dispiriting to see Nicolas Cage in another straight-to-Redbox movie. While the actor/cult hero’s recent woes have been fairly well-documented, there are few performers of this generation (or even the last one) who bring the committed tenacity to a performance that Cage does at his best. Sure, sometimes he goes too far over the bell curve with it and wind up in Wicker Man territory, but there’s always been more to Cage than the memes. Go back to Leaving Las Vegas and Adaptation and you’ll find a performer of ferocious impact whose emotional intensity emerged in even the most understated roles. Hell, if you want a sterling example of Crazy Cage giving a genuinely great turn, go find Werner Herzog’s spiritual update of Bad Lieutenant.
Every few years, though, Cage still finds himself aligned with the kind of filmmaker who knows how to corral his distinctive talents into the kind of performance that keeps his legend alight no matter how many Rages and Trespasses muddy the waters. In Mandy, director Panos Cosmatos’ already-acclaimed horror feature, Cage plays a man whose idyllic lifestyle is shattered forever when he and his wife (Andrea Riseborough) are assaulted by a sadistic early ’80s cult, led by a mysterious figure named Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache). The assault sends Cage off on what Kill Bill once referred to as a “roaring rampage of revenge.”
Judging by the film’s first trailer, that rampage will include (but hopefully not be limited to) chainsaws, blades, and some kind of otherworldly battle-axe. The buzz on Mandy has been deafening ever since its premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and on September 14th, the unprepared world will be able to see for itself.