Running Time: 93 Mins
What To Expect: Cage really going overboard, very bad writing is always bordering mediocrity
Nicolas Cage can elevate a mediocre and even bad movie into an hour or two of watchable fun. Often when the movie is trying to be something and fails, Cage tries to make it something else and succeeds. Someone must have gotten the idea that it was time to put Cage in a full bore comedy, with maximum trolling engaged. And so we have Army of One, a movie where Nicolas Cage invades Pakistan to hunt down Bin Laden armed with a sword. What an amazing premise.
The movie takes care during the intro to let us know that Gary Faulkner (Cage) is not a psychotic and has actually been diagnosed as perfectly sane. I suppose that’s a nice way to dispose of film snobs who might want to look for some ulterior subtext (they’re always doing that anyway, even when they don’t exist). Faulkner is a motor-mouthed layabout who is visited by God (Russell Brand) and ordered to head to Pakistan and capture Osama Bin Laden. After some failed attempts, Faulkner eventually lands in the country via glider, armed with a Japanese sword. The hunt begins.
I don’t think I’ve seen Nicolas Cage going this overboard in his acting before. It seems to be 90 minutes of wall-to-wall yelling and screaming, bringing us a character who falls somewhere between Mr. Bean and Borat, only slightly more stupid than both. Cage is really off the wall and throughout the whole thing maintains an odd high pitched voice. If the whole thing sounds hilarious, to me it was quite funny but only now and again. The only good thing about this movie is Nicolas Cage, because everything else about it is pretty poor.
The movie relies on the dynamo performance of Cage, in lieu of an actual story. I mean when Cage gets to Pakistan, there’s a lot of walking around doing fuck all, literally, we have people who have acquired Cage but can’t prepare him an engaging comedic plot. Also, dare I say it, the pace of his wacky performance even becomes exhausting — Gary Faulkner is almost impossible to emphasize with on account of how ‘out there’ Cage’s demeanour and apparently totally random ad-lib dialogue.
I’m gonna give this a thumbs up though. I mean I thought I’d hate Russell Brand, but he pulls off a reasonably watchable ‘God’. Take a scene where Faulkner is not really pushing ahead and trying to get the job done – he’s involving himself with a woman (Wendi McLendon-Covey) in a dull romantic subplot. So God shows up in a bar to confront Faulkner and admonishes him for “letting woman shit get in the way of man business” and threatens to ‘smite’ him if he doesn’t double down on getting that SOB Bin Laden. Yes, God is a foul-mouthed dude bro in this movie, who calls his enemies Bin Laden and Obama ‘fuckers’. I wonder if these otherwise good scenes were even in the garbage script.
So I’m giving this a generous 7 but be warned, it’s nowhere near its full potential.