Overacting is a cinema sin that is one of the most beloved movie mishaps out there. There is something fascinating by grown up man and women that we can see as actual people, acting like cartoon characters. Nicolas “Not the Bees” Cage is one well known for his zany madman acting. John “Battlefield Earth” Travolta is another one of those actors who plays his characters as if they are anime characters. When you take their face *flourish and dramatic pause* off and put it on each others.. we get some seriously delicious ham.
Woo are you
Some movies are all about great dialogue, clever , insightful, thought provoking. Movies like those made by Quentin Tarantino. Some are all about a great story, some about great characters. The Ang Lee’s and Steven Spielbergs amongst us. Others hope to just entertain us trough great songs, cute stuff or badass action. However it’s rare when a movies main selling point is the actors, being their utter and complete self. We have the Expandables and possibly Machette can be marked for this one, but no movie has been completely like this.. this feels next level.
John Woo made this 1997 movie in such a way it could not have been made for anyone else. It feels like this movie was made for Cage and Travolta..also in their specific parts. It feels as if they are cast for their oddities rather than their acting prowess and in doing so.. it becomes something truly unique.
John Woo has an excellent eye for action cinematography.. even though he really loves to use birds in them, as some weird signature, that again blends so well with these actors and this cheesy story. It feels like the combiner robot made of the most incompatible parts that somehow come together in a mecha that can kick Burning Gundam and Gurren Lagann’s ass. John Woo is an alchemist who turned lead into gold… golden cheese. That kind of his his thing.
Bulletproof Monk, Mission Impossible 2, Hard Target and Broken Arrow are some of the other movies in his repertoire and all these movies show that same signature. If you’d review them you’d give them a poor score but when your watching them you are just having a dopey grin on your face. An alchemist I’ll tell you.
So long before we had apps to swap faces John Woo decided he was hungry for some cheese again and all he had was a mediocre script. His lead! A movie about a cop named Sean Archer who loses his son to the terrorist Castor Troy. He turns into the stereotypical 90’s badass action cop who lost it all and now can only think of revenge. How do you make this interesting? Well let the terrorist be played by Nicolas Cage, who hides a bomb some sort of convention center thing of sorts. How about we open up with him dressing up like a priest to make sure he can walk around without too much suspicion while a choir is singing Hallelujah! Let’s let him totally rock out to that music, while smoking and let him off key sing along while he gropes a nun while he makes his eyes pop out of his head!
Is that interesting enough for you yet? No! How about a plot where John Travolta gets Nicolas Cage face.. because only Castor’s brother Pollux and Castor himself know where the bomb is?! Because Castor is totally in a Coma… but he wakes up early.. and then forces the medical staff to put John Travolta’s face on him?! Good I thought that would get you.
So now we get Nicolas Cage’s overacting on steroids because he plays overacting actor John Travolta, playing overacting actor Nicolas Cage. I know these characters has names..but this feels more like some odd and delightful social experiment that is about overacting three times over and my Arceus do I love it.
But look at me getting all ahead of myself skipping over some important plot. After seeing Nicolas Cage rock out to songs of the lord we see him boarding a plane before his nuke thingy goes off. He has a private jet for some reason including some floozy who he makes a makes a lot of butt allegories to. It turns out she is an undercover agent working for Sean Archer as Sean and his team invade the airfield to make the arrest. Castor kills the lady and shrugs with a face that somehow looks as if it was drawn onto him.. during that fifth episode of Dragon Ball Super… inhumane. Sean chases Castor’s plane with a helicopter..causing to drive into a hanger.. including more fireworks than an american fourth of July.
With a scene that feels as if it was the grand finale of the movie already.. in how over the top it is. Castor gets knocked into a fence by a plane engine and slips into a coma. Only after that Sean discovers Castor has left a bomb..and now the only person who is awake to know.. won’t cooperate…so time to slice Castors Face *Flourish and dramatic pause* off… and put it on Sean.. so he can convince his henchmen to give up the location.
No Face, No Limits
This is just the Set-up for the movie and we aren’t even done with that yet. During the airplane scene Nicolas Cage acts so insane…I genuinely feel we are looking at a madman here! Asking to be executed, singing.. while also acting like he is scared… all at the SAME time. At this time he is still playing just Castor.. so playing himself in a way. Of course the top medical research facility that does these kind of prints.. has no security at all next to a comatose terrorist that is one of the most dangerous men of all time.. so it is easy for him to get the surgery done to him?! How?! Because there is an open phone line in his unguarded room he calls some henchmen with. So once again this movie shows us it’s not about the journey.. it’s about how cool anything looks and how hammy you can make it.
Seriously there is more ham in this movie then there is in Germany during Oktoberfest. Normally you have a director telling you to tone it down a little.. those words were NEVER stated during this movie. Nicolas Cage .. now Sean, gets send to some sort of sci fi prison with magnet boots and cattle prods , advance tracking systems and what not. Here we get the most briljant scene of all. Nicolas Cage pretending to smile as his crazy zelf. Standing Ovation Right there! John Travolta is possibly even more fun. You see Nicolas cage has to pretend being nicolas cage.. John Travolta is in a position where he can both pretend to be him…OR Nicolas Cage. It’s like watching two chinese people play pingpong! It flips so forth so fast you lose track..but it sure looks fascinating
After that point the movie takes some ridiculous plot twists that leave Sean to fend for himself and Castor getting a bomb again. More helicopters, gunfights explosions.. and possibly the best sequence in the movie, Nicolas Cage, playing a Drugged up Sean Archer, pretending to be Castor Troy.. talking about capturing fake Archer and taking his face *flourish and dramatic pause* off. There has been a reason I have been writing it like this. This scene is amazing!
If people remember that family guy episode where Peter loves when a movie title is said in the movie.. than this would be a joyride. It’s so insanely overacted so in your face/off out there that you can’t help to chuckle. I wouldn’t even call it acting anymore… this is something else like the Super Saiyan 3 of acting. We shall call it Cavolta’ing ..or maybe Travolcaging.
Face it, it’s awesome!
Now of course just overacting alone would not be enough! The same tone is taken to the action scenes, from the epic conclusion scene in the first minutes to the epic conclusion in the end .. all the action movies feel completely over the top. The Scarface Mansion shootout wasn’t over the top enough.. so let’s try to do that in full slowmo .. while a children’s lullaby is playing as Sean tries to save Castor’s son from being killed by Travolta and his Swat Team that somehow try to shoot a kid… even though they are cops.
How about an extremely explosive shootout in a church while white doves fly about.. to symbolise Castor’s god complex. Shooting scene where both have to shoot their reflection in a mirror which also symbolises their foes. Or a high speed chase with speedboats.. going through other boats which violently explode on contact. It’s all there!
When I say symbolism I mean it is about as deep as that children’s toy where you have to clean your toys in a bin by putting the ball through the ball shaped hole and the triangle through the triangle shaped hole.. and the square. in the square.. but there definitely is symbolism. It might be cheesier than a swiss fondue but it fits the movie so well yet again.
Start to finish, scene by scene, it feels like everyone on the set was over-compensating in their field. Pyrotechnics.. over the top.. analogies ..over the top… Travolcaging…WOW! It might not be a good movie when we look at it objectively..but when it comes to enjoyment .. this is a hard one to face *flourish and dramatic pause* off against.