Once in a generation, there comes a performer of such immense skill and charisma that he redefines the very nature of acting. Cagney. Brando. Hepburn. Pacino. Streep. These men and women changed the way we perceive acting. The creation and inhabiting of a character by a separate entity. James Lipton could put it better. But the point is that they change the landscape. They exist as paragons of the craft. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you: Nicolas Cage.
It has become apparent through his body of work that he is, quite simply, the finest actor of our time. "Put the bunny back in the box." Said with such conviction, embodying the fierce determination of Cameron Poe to return to the daughter he left behind during his incarceration. Cage endows the modern-day Jean Valjean with a pathos that we see throughout Cage's career. The same depth of passion burns in his eyes as he races against the clock to save his young brother from the ill will of vicious criminals in Gone in 60 Seconds. Or when he's having rooftop sex with his girlfriend in The Rock.
But Cage really lets his skills shine in his two most recent releases, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and Kick-Ass. I won't spoil anything about either of these movies if you haven't seen them. But just go see them. Please. Watching Cage in Kick-Ass isn't like a watching a movie. It's like watching a revolution, an upheaval of the mind and soul. His cadence of speech as Big Daddy is nothing short of a miracle. There's nothing even remotely jokey about this. I think the guy is a genius and I would put him in every single movie if I could. He's not that well-respected because he chooses to do movies like National Treasure and Bangkok Dangerous. But he won an Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas and he's had some amazing performances in a lot of movies. Honestly, you have to respect him for just saying fuck it and doing movies that he thinks are fun instead of acting in things that other people will deem artistically worthy. Nothing against these movies, but I'd infinitely rather act in The Rock or Con Air or National Treasure than Precious or Boys Don't Cry.
Kick-Ass happens to kind of be both. It's definitely a big, fun, silly movie. But it's also is a smart, funny, oddly satirical take on the superhero genre. It's worth seeing if you don't mind a little girl committing mass murder and swearing a lot. And the movie is ultra-violent generally. But if you didn't expect that going to see a movie called "Kick-Ass," well... you need to pay more attention. When I saw Brokeback Mountain in the theater there were mostly old people in the theater. (I saw it in the middle of the day on a weekday on the Upper East Side) Clearly, many of these people were unaware of what they were getting into. When Heath Ledger spits on his hand and gets ready to just go to town on Jake Gyllenhall's cornhole, this old dude in my row was like "Oh my..." and got up and left. People, you need to be smarter consumers. When I went to see Up I didn't think it was a biopic about the guy who invented Viagra. And when you go to see Kick-Ass, which you should, just be aware that it is very violent and that you're about to watch the defining performance of the decade.
Nic Cage, if you're reading this, call me. I've got just the part for you...