Director: Tom Gormican
Writers: Tom Gormican, Kevin Etten
Production: Lionsgate, Saturn Films
Distributor: Lionsgate UK
Platform: Theatrical Release (Reviewed)
Release Date: Out Now!
Ah, the film where Nicolas Cage plays… Nick Cage! It’s a great pitch, with a story about a fictional version of Cage coming to terms with the latter stages of his career. He’s divorced from ex-wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan) and has a disconnected relationship with his daughter Addy (Lily Sheen), and the money isn’t exactly rolling in, so he decides to accept a paid invite from fan Javi Gutierrez (Pedro Pascal) to Mallorca. This leads into a developing and dishonest bromance between them, with larger-than-life cartel plotlines thrown in amongst the self-referential Cage-isms.
It’s a strange collection of threads from which to make a movie. My personal hope going in was that this film would be subtle and smart with how it uses the Cage-as-Cage concept. If you’re somehow unaware, the real-life Nicolas Cage is widely known and loved for his long-running career and quirky mannerisms. An early scene of Cage pleading desperately for a film role was a positive start, reminding me of the absorbing scenes in Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood where Leonardo DiCaprio played an actor under pressure.
However, this film lets that element fall away. Instead, it gets wrapped up in the wink-nudge dramatic comedy of events in Mallorca. The whole uniqueness of Cage playing himself only seems present for the audience to nod along with, instead of any big rug-pulling reason. It’s played for effect constantly, and the frequent references to his filmography and merchandise got tiring fast. Where this could’ve been a thought-provoking approach to autobiographical filmmaking, it just came across as self-serving, especially in terms of the ending, which also resolved character conflicts too quickly and neatly.
Overall, the film is competently put together, with the Mallorca scenes having a beautiful backdrop that’s sadly underutilised after initial establishing shots. The performances are all solid, and Cage is definitely committed to representing different sides of himself (as shown through Nicky, the imaginary side of himself that he converses with). The chemistry between Cage and Pascal is believable enough but never fully drew me in, which hurts some of the intended payoff later on.
All throughout this review I’ve brought up aspects of the film that didn’t work for me in the way I believe they were intended to. Ultimately, it got to the point around the halfway mark where I started to understand what this film was – and it wasn’t the whip-smart self-analysis I was hoping for. Contrastingly, it felt mediocre and left me waiting for the finish line.
I’m confident there’re people who’ll find a lot of enjoyment from the Cage-related humour and references here, and I’m not saying that’s the wrong reaction; but I’ve got to be honest, for me it was grating, not gratifying. There’s a conversation around the mid-point where a character tries to trick another via a line about marketing hooks, which the other character sees straight through. It’s sadly ironic in how it commentates on the use of the Cage-as-Cage hook. All in all, a missed opportunity.