Here’s a movie that came out in ’93, or at least appeared on TV in ’93 then because people realised it wasn’t shit, then went to theatres in ’94. Pity we couldn’t get the reverse to happen with this interminable stream of bullshit comic book movies. But anyway, Red Rock West is a manly Nic Cage movie that has fallen under the radar. It came before Cage hit the big time and before his shitty dramatic phase. I’d actually put this as one of his top five movies, maybe even top three. It’s almost as good as Con Air, Face/Off and The Rock. Almost. It’s a cool game of cat and mouse, not just the screenplay, but with Cage acting one minute and just plain trolling seconds later. Just like a typical Cage movie. Leaving Las Vegas? Fuck that shit, this one is five times the fun.
Former Marine Nicolas Cage lives out of the trunk of his car, literally using it as a drawer for clothing. At his last five dollars, he is looking for a job. J.T. Walsh offers him one, mistaking him for a hitman he ordered to kill his wife (understandable). Cage takes the money and runs, Walsh finds out he’s been trolled and he and the real hitman (Dennis Hopper) give chase. Impossible not to emphaisze with Cage and impossible not to love the bad guys. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a shit movie with J.T. Walsh in it. He was the archetypal 90’s bad guy. Then there’s Hopper, easily in Walsh’s league. It’s a pity we lost both. It just goes to show how good DTV was 20 years ago compared to now, with everything shot in Eastern Europe with fat sex traffickers having their lines dubbed. This looks and feels heavyweight and theatrical.
I was going to say not a minute is wasted in this movie in terms of awesome pacing, but that’s not really true. The one big failing of this movie is the dreaded romantic sub-plot. Why! Why the fuck do they insist on it 96% of the time? To this day, I don’t get it. Is it to reel in a few extra bucks from a female audience? And if that’s what it is, WTF is wrong with women? Why is this the only thing they’re interested in? Boyle lays the wishy washy shit on Cage, about running away on a whirlwind romantic adventure.
But then there’s Cage’s acting in these scenes, and the whole movie. I’ve never worked out whether Cage is one of the worst actors of all time or the best trolls of all time. Serious scenes are turned into an eye-popping joke. Tense scenes turned mellow by just plain odd acting – Cage runs a man over in his car – I’m not sure what Cage was trying to do acting-wise, but I’m just going to call it trolling by the look on his face. But such Cage-isms are good.