It ain’t no Alien. It’s not even Thelma & Louise. Sir Scott was trying to branch out, do a light “comedy” that appealed to the weekday evening crowd. A confectiony, heart-tugging two hours with a twist that you could walk out of and not feel like your life had been changed.
I suppose the mission was accomplished in that case.
Discounting people who are of the “I don’t like Nicolas Cage” mindset (a personal beef of mine: Do you know Mr. Cage personally? What exactly is it about his fine performances that specifically annoys you? Is it his chameleon-like ability as a professional actor to embody punk, loser, freak, con-man, alcoholic, sweetheart or criminal? Perhaps it’s the fact that he’s a member of the multi-talented Coppola clan. Maybe you don’t like him because he’s so good at getting into his characters that you don’t like the character. Which means he’s doing his job just fine. Maybe you just don’t like the way he looks. Get over it. I don’t have some obsession with Nicolas Cage. I don’t even really fancy him as a sex-symbol anymore, but I have a problem with people who don’t like certain actors when those actors are clearly good at their craft — he didn’t win an oscar for picking his nose, or kissing anyone’s ass), Nicolas Cage gives another fine performance as Roy Waller.
There seems to be some buzz about an Oscar nod, but aside from a fine performance (which, as stated above), he’s just an actor doing his job.
Sam Rockwell, as usual, is underused as a very obviously but pivotal supporting character.
Alison Lohman did an entirely satisfactory job playing a role that any of the new crop of innocent ingenues (Anna Paquin, Zooey Deschanel, Leelee Sobieski) could have played as a kid who can turn on the waterworks on a dime or play petulant, provocative teenager.
The film seems to serve two purposes: To tell the story of a grift with a twist, and to showcase Cage. It works pretty well on both levels, as Cage is very noticeably the star of this movie, taking up every scene in the film with his characters ticks, and quirks, shot in Scott’s newfound slow motion, colour lensed style that you may remember from Gladiator. I suppose Cage’s Obsessive Compulsive disorder is a metaphor on two levels. The first is a manifestation of the guilt he feels for having spent his life as an alcoholic criminal, stealing money from old ladies. The second is more subtle, a forest for the trees type metaphor in that Roy is so caught up in the details that he fails to see the big picture.
It’s not as well set-up or jaw-dropping as other films in the “twist” genre, like, say The Sixth Sense, but there are clues dropped here or there that would suggest, upon a second viewing, that at least we might have been able to see what was coming.
It’s at about the same calibre as Ocean’s Eleven, and yeah, maybe it’s got a little more depth, but as far as Ridley Scott goes, you’re probably better off renting Bladerunner. Frank Deckard is a far more interesting character than Roy Waller, Angela and Frank Mercer combined, but there’s still a pretty decent story there, and if you’ve got nothing better to spend your $13 on, you could do worse than watching 116 minutes of above average Hollywood fare.