How has there not already been a Nicolas Cage movie called Rage? That title could fit many of the Drive Angry star’s late-career time-wasters. Here it works best as an imperative rather than an announcement of theme: You may feel some anger if you pay to watch this. Or you may not, as Rage offers exactly what you think a Nic Cage movie called Rage would, except maybe for continually inspired lunacy.
It’s got the kidnapped daughter, the parade of tough-guy monologues, the scenes of Cage killing and looking anguished as he washes his hands, some pretty good knife fights, a not-bad car chase, a couple scenes of torture that director Paco Cabezas clearly isn’t too invested in, and three moments of prime-Cage weirdness, each a readymade for future WTF clip reels. Danny Glover, 27 years after complaining he was too old for this shit, shows up as police detective who rasps things like “He’s got a rap sheet as long as my dick.” He’s rewarded with a go-nowhere voice-of-reason speech, delivered in the general direction of Cage, who at that point in the movie has chosen to suggest the Rage of the title by assuming something of a haughty indifference. Cop cars explode when T-boned, and bad guys — mostly the Russian Mafia — stand perfectly still for long moments while firing their automatic weapons into whatever impenetrable bar or bathtub the heroes are hiding behind.
There are flashbacks to some youthful gang war that may offer clues to Rage‘s central mystery, but these are so rote they could have been purchased as stock footage — and that mystery is just as sorry as you might expect. The movie’s called Rage, not Solve.
You’ve sat through worse things while folding laundry. (You know what would be the most accurate title for a Cage flick? Not Drive Angry but Fold Bored.) Let’s turn to the only question that matters: How crazy does Cage get? On a scale of one to ten, with ten being The Wicker Man and one being the real Nicolas Cage on a Sunday morning eating a scone and reading a Ghost Rider comic, Rage ranks about a six.
By my count the movie’s got three memorable scenes of Cage unhinged, plus the occasional from-nowhere flourish, like the early moment when, in the middle of an everyday conversation, before the plot kicks in, his character seems to have decided to see how many times he can point his finger in the space of ten seconds.
Here are Rage‘s three maddest scenes, ranked and rated:
Cage vs. a Teenage Boy:
Not longer after his daughter (Aubrey Peeples, so good on TV’s Nashville) has gone missing, Cage’s character — he has a name, but I can only think of him as “Cage” — storms into the bedroom of one of the horny teenbros who last saw her. Cage studies the kid’s medals and trophies for moment, observes that he once won some, too, and then launches into a monologue about an early date with the woman who went on to be the mother of the missing girl. “This Puerto Rican-looking shithead comes walkin’ down the beach,” he says. “Calls Mary a ‘slut.’ Can you believe that shit?” The story ends with Cage beating the guy to death with a tire iron, because “that’s what gentlemen do.” Cage Craziness Ranking: 5.
Cage vs. the Wife:
Because this is a movie called Rage about a dude whose daughter goes missing, Cage’s character eventually has to stab a bunch of Russian mafiosos. His young wife (Rachel Nicols) — not the one whose honor he defended with a tire-iron — is shaken by this. Cage, shirtless and motormouthed, confronts her: “Say ‘My husband is a killer,'” he demands. “Come on. Repeat after me: ‘My husband is killer.'” He seizes her neck and pushes her against the bathroom wall. “You’ve always known it,” he says. “Is that why you’re still here? Because it turns you on?” He looks at her like he’s about to cry, and then mushes his mouth to hers, initiating passionate makeout. Cage Craziness Ranking: 7.
Cage vs. Death Itself:
A spirited footchase finds Cage pursuing a bad guy from the world’s most overstaffed late-morning strip club up onto the flooded roof of an abandoned warehouse. The bad guy is bleeding from a couple of gunshot wounds, but Cage still hopes to shake some intel from him — and he also feels a little bad about all the death and etc. Cage punches him, shouts some questions, and then realizes the guy’s not long for this world. “Don’t die!” Cage shouts and then begins smashes the guy’s head into a puddle eight times a row, hollering “Don’t die!” or “Who did it?” each time. Cage’s yells become a spectacular three-act scream, equal parts Rage and Tarzan. Once the guy is dead Cage shoots him a half dozen times and then kicks him in the head. Cage Craziness Ranking: 9.
Are those moments strong enough to excuse the price of an on-demand screening? I leave that to you. When you see these clips on YouTube someday, spliced in with classics like the one where the bees sting his eyes, will you really need to know each freakout’s provenance?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 9, 2014