Despite all his rage, he’s still just Nicolas CageBrowse all movies
Love Nicolas Cage movies? Well, did you know that his real name is Nicolas Kim Coppola? He can’t remember a time when he didn’t want to be an actor. Being Francis Ford Coppola’s nephew, Nic could have coasted on his connections but decided to thwack his own path through the jungle. Inspired by the comic book character Luke Cage, he adopted the screen name as his own.
Cage regards comic books as today’s equivalent of mythology and was the victim of a comic book heist in 1997. He also has a thing for castles… living in a faux one on the outskirts of Los Angeles, threatening to import a real one and sleeping in the one that inspired Dracula’s to prepare for a role. Since the 80s, the wild-card actor has made himself a household name playing a string of eccentric and flamboyant characters, and winning an Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas.
Having an electric on-screen presence that makes him catnip to Werner Herzog, the blue-eyed Hollywood star is prone to improvisation and is always entertaining, whether he’s playing an angel or taking on the apocalypse mid-flight. To get a grip on this “jazz musician of acting”, according to David Lynch, we’re rating just how Cagey each of his performances are in the these Nicolas Cage movies now streaming on Showmax.
One Cage = dead serious, five Cages = hammy as heck.
City of Angels is loosely based on Wim Wenders’ black-and-white German fantasy romance Wings of Desire. While Bruno Ganz is best known for memes based on his brilliant performance as Hitler in Downfall, he was on the other side of the spectrum as Damiel in the original. Showing just as much range by taking on the tricky role of playing an angel is none other than Nic Cage as the cool-headed Seth.
The Cage was a force to be reckoned with in 1998, spinning off his big Academy Award into an action rock star reinvention. Today’s Nic Cage wouldn’t be able to resist rattling this haloless role. Meg Ryan, also at the height of her career, plays a doctor in deep disbelief, and the two entwine in this “love story made in Heaven”. Nic isn’t usually a romantic lead but works miracles (sorry) in a role originally destined for Johnny Depp. Listening to people’s dramatic inner monologues, Cage’s earnest, compassionate and forlorn blue eyes add an ethereal mood with a very uncharacteristic yet strong performance.
(City of Angels will be streaming on Showmax until 1 May 2022.)
This sci-fi martial arts flick features action stars Rick Yune, Tony Jaa and Frank Grillo, and centres on an ancient order of fighters who join forces to take down alien invaders. It’s not quite as old-school as Space Invaders, but the bad guy is very similar in style to the alien hybrid super soldier hero, Guyver, and Arnie’s jungle stray, Predator. With its comic book style frame to cue scenes, you can understand the allure of Jiu Jitsu to mythological comic book enthusiast Nic Cage.
The sci-fi actioner opens with Cage in a wide-brimmed Raiden-style hat, but what’s even more surprising is that his first shamanic utterance only comes 38 minutes in. While Cage is no stranger to action movies, it’s difficult to imagine him doing Mortal Kombat fly kicks without a little help from guys dressed in green. Since Cage is the proud bearer of a tattoo featuring a monitor lizard in a top hat, the filmmakers tip the um… you know, as Cage announces he’s hungry for “a noodle or pickle”. While he’s aiming for the enigma of Rambo, his opening wushu moves are more Little John than Johnny Cage.
Being an actor related to the guy who brought us a little film called The Godfather (you may have heard of it), there’s a good chance you’ll be roped into starring in a mob movie. A Score to Settle director, Shawn Ku, probably would’ve preferred that Cage use the name on his birth certificate but having an undercover Coppola must give you some street cred. Leaning into his Italian roots and brandishing his American hairline in the wind, Cage musters as much tough guy as he can handle to play former enforcer Frank.
While “The Cage” likes to go out on a limb in many of his hammier performances, he’s actually trying to keep a lid on in this potboiler. Freshly out of prison, reconnecting with his estranged son Joey and trying to exact revenge on his former bosses whilst nursing a terminal illness, Frank is played by a tight-lipped Cage, who keeps the dialogue extra dry, and the action simmering. This is definitely one of Nic’s most considered performances – he even learned to play piano for the part. This validates the crime thriller and serves as a healthy reminder that this guy won an Oscar and that what happens in Vegas can happen in Hollywood… It’s complicated.
Based on the true story of Gary Faulkner comes Army of One, an outlandish biographical comedy about a part-time construction worker who was allegedly briefed by God himself to undertake a mission to bring Al-Qaeda’s leader, Osama Bin Laden, to justice. When God is played by Russell Brand and the film’s directed by Sacha Baron Cohen co-conspirator, Larry Charles, you’ve got to know something’s up.
Army of One was an actual recruiting slogan for the US and could easily be a working title for Cage’s autobiography. As middle-aged guy with a nasal voice, grey beard, ponytail and glasses, this must be one of his wildest transformations. The look calls to mind Dumbledore more than Double Dragon when you hear the phrase “American samurai”. Losing himself in this XL Hawaiian T-shirt role is Nic Cage at his eccentric best, traveling to the Pakistan badlands in a bid to star-spangle the most wanted man on earth as a fast-talking, obnoxious and patriotic barfly on a God-ordained mission. This strangely compelling misadventure hinges on the energy and conviction of Cage’s madcap lead performance.
Atmospheric music quite literally stolen from the Twin Peaks soundtrack opens this film with a haunting montage of a lifeless body trapped under ice before the fantasy thriller cuts to a close-up of a cashier’s butt crack. Between Worlds is prime Nic Cage terrain as the natural born thespian injects himself into Joe, a down-on-his-luck, shark-tooth-thong-trucker-cap-hip-flask-wearing son of a gun. When he meets Julie, a woman who can contact spirits whilst suffocating (say what?), it’s not long before he’s on an errand for her comatose daughter’s lost soul. Naturally, things don’t go to plan.
This is the fourth time Cage is playing a Joe in Between Worlds, a spacey movie that rolls like an out-of-control 18-wheeler leaving the road at will and obliterating everything in its way. Just like his “boil-on-the-ass” character, Cage is drunk behind the wheel in this promising yet ultimately sleazy film. Ordinarily, this would be a good thing but ironically The Cage is an average Joe, neither here nor there in a self-fulfilling prophecy… Between Worlds.
Nicolas Cage appears in some of the most unexpected places and Left Behind is one of his most bizarre roles. While it’s foreseeable that he would in fact survive the apocalypse along with cockroaches, this faith-based fantasy sci-fi thriller finds Cage playing concerned airline pilot Rayford Steele. The character’s name sounds made up on the spot and so does his performance, uttering lines like “but hey, if she’s gonna run off with another man, why not Jesus?”. He may have wings and be dealing with Heaven and Hell but this ain’t no Airport of Angels.
Constantly rippling his furrowed brow and wearing Aviators indoors, we believe that he cares about stuff like his family and that if you happen to get stuck in the Rapture mid-air, you’d want him behind the yoke. As millions of people suddenly vanish and the world is plunged into chaos, trust the guy who played the long-haired convict in Con Air to get you to your final destination. It may not be as silly as Airplane! or as doomed as Armageddon but how often do you get to cast Gary Grubbs, Martin Klebba and Nicolas Cage in the same movie?