Much of Nicolas Cage’s VOD era has been critically maligned but despite this, it also saw the actor give some of his most unique performances.
Nicolas Cage’s VOD era may have resulted in plenty of maligned movies, but it also saw the star give some of his varied, unique performances. Cage began his career in the early ’80s and quickly gained a reputation for his flamboyant and quirky performances, seen in the likes of Peggy Sue Got Married or Raising Arizona. Following his devastating turn as a self-destructing alcoholic in 1995’s Leaving Las Vegas, Cage made a strange shift to become an action movie star with the likes of Con Air. Face/Off is one of his most beloved movies from this time, where his dual performance got to see him go both wildly over the top while also having more tender scenes.
Sadly, by the late 2000s, Cage often attached himself to projects of dubious quality, such as Next or the needless remake of Bangkok Dangerous – which had a bizarre, happy alternate ending. After a string of studio movies such as Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance underperformed, Cage largely moved away from mainstream filmmaking toward VOD movies. This was due in large part to losing the fortune he had acquired and owing the IRS and other creditors millions of dollars. Instead of filing for bankruptcy, he eagerly accepted VOD projects and often made up to four movies a year in a bid to pay off his debts.
In a 2022 GQ interview, Cage clarified that while not all of these VOD movies worked, he never “phoned” in a performance. In truth, many of these Nicolas Cage video-on-demand movies are total duds, from the interminably dull Pay The Ghost to the poorly reviewed thriller Grand Isle. However, it’s true that even in the worst of this period, Cage NEVER just phones it in. In fact, this era contains some of Nicolas Cage’s best movie performances.
Most recently, Cage gave arguably one of his finest turns in Pig. This 2021 drama has a premise that doesn’t sound far away from the original John Wick, but Cage’s affecting turn as a truffle hunter who sets out to find his pig after she’s kidnapped reminded people that with the right material, Cage is capable of exceptional work. Another highlight from Nicolas Cage’s VOD era is Mandy. This is another revenge thriller, but with a much more heightened and violent tone, where Cage’s Red finds the cult responsible for the senseless death of his girlfriend. Mandy received praise for its visuals and merging of action and horror, with Cage getting to go wild and restrained depending on the scene.
Even in his lesser VOD outings, Cage at least got to be experimental, such as his entirely silent turn in Willy’s Wonderland, the bizarre Prisoners Of The Ghostland – where he lost some body parts – or reprising his unhinged turn as gangster Eddie from cult favorite Deadfall for 2017’s Arsenal. Other highlights include Lovecraft adaptation Color Out Of Space, where his farmer slowly descends into madness – in that distinct Cage way – due to an extraterrestrial force. While far from a VOD movie, his voice work as Spider-Man Noir in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse was also a standout among a voice cast filled with standout turns. Cage confirmed in the above GQ interview that his debts are fully paid off and he will be more selective about projects, but hopefully, the experimental energy he brought to his VOD years will be seen in his upcoming performances, like Dracula in Renfield.
Next: Renfield: Everything We Know About Nic Cage’s Dracula Movie
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