Stars: 0.5 out of 5
Starring Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouéré, Sam Louwyck, Hayley Saywell, Richard Brake, and Bill Duke
Directed by Panos Cosmatos
Written by Panos Cosmatos and Aaron Stewart-Ahn
Rated: 18A for violence, nightmarish imagery, smoking, drug use, nudity, sexual situations and coarse language
Runtime: 121 minutes
Now playing at Cineplex Odeon South Edmonton Common
Every film-goer loves Nicolas Cage for any number of reasons. He’s both fun to watch and over the top in a lot of his roles, or at least he can be. It’s been years since he’s been really great though. Mostly, he seems to take movies that are destined for the dollar bin or pay-per-view limbo.
Take Mandy for example. It sounds like it should be the perfect Nicolas Cage vehicle. Set in the early 1980s, he plays a character named Red who is a lumberjack living in the Shadow Mountains. OK, we’re already off to a good start, right? He lives an idyllic life with his girlfriend Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). Unfortunately, there’s some kind of an evil murderous cult led by Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) along with some strange demonic monstrous creatures, one of which is a spike-covered motorcycle-riding hellbeast. Another is what Red calls “a vicious snowflake” though it looks more like a faceless leather-clad weirdo. Cults with monsters and Nicolas Cage do not mix well. Red survives the attack and seeks to take revenge against the ne’er-do-wells, so he forges his own axe (while wearing sunglasses) and brandishes a crossbow that he calls “The Reaper” in planning his comeback.
Now, all of that looks great on paper and if you can be satisfied with leaving it at that then it’s to your advantage. Scratch that one up as a win.
Watching it, however, is a different experience altogether.
The film is an atmospheric landscape of weird tension complete with colour filters, psychedelic visuals, an ultra-violent gonzo story including a chainsaw battle royale, and the last tonal electronica soundtrack by Jóhann Jóhannsson. In many ways, it’s like The Hills Have Eyes was mixed with some blood-soaked Road Warrior influences and whack martial arts, and then directed in a way that tried to look and feel like something done as a joint effort by Lars von Trier and Nicholas Winding Refn. Did I neglect to mention the glacial pace of the film, too? It was like watching paint dry for two hours.
All of that was combined with Nicolas Cage trying to turn his volume back up to 11 on the Cage Crazy Scale, complete with him wailing and guzzling a bottle of vodka while wearing his white cotton briefs. That volume dial only goes up to three these days though and everything just ends up a sad reminder of all the promise that both he and this film had. Neither achieved anything really except for blurred vision and a good nap with strange dreams.
Perhaps this film was meant for viewers who have ingested illegal mind-altering substances. I don’t recommend it, but I can’t imagine any other way for someone to last through this dreadfully slow snoozer.
The only really interesting part of Mandy was that it was co-produced by Legion M, the first fan-owned entertainment company. Yes, that’s right, viewers. You, too, can invest in movies that no one will or even should watch.