Hollywood and Cage have both reached a special milestone with the most ridiculous movie of the decade. Also a psychological history of Nicolas Cage's epic journey towards martyrdom in his previous movies.
(major spoilers ahead)
In every area of entertainment there is always a goofy but lovable character or group that keeps trying regardless of the endless failures and social ridicule. Basketball has The Knicks, music has Christian metal, and Hollywood has Nicolas Cage. This man carries the heaviest of burdens: trying to appear as a lead actor in one good movie (by his own criteria) before he dies while playing a role of somebody who dies.
You might be confused and object, "but what about Spike Jonze's Adaptation? That was great! and The Rock! That was neat too! err, Leaving Las Vegas!"
It would seem that Adaptation is the pinnacle of Cage's career and also a good movie. And it is. However what really got imbeded psychologically into Cage's brain is the Oscar that he got for playing an alcoholic on a mission to drink himself to death in Leaving Las Vegas. He was 31 years old when playing a tortured soul on a mission of self destruction provided the greatest positive reinforcement an actor can get.
Cage thus learned a valuable lesson back in 1995. "To become great I must destroy myself on film." He set out to do just that on a life project that grew beyond his control.
Obviously he didn't think he was already past his prime after getting the Academy Award. At that tender age, people are at the peak of their cognitive powers and think they'll keep improving indefinitely. What ended up happening is that no other actor has appeared in more movies where the role seems to be to either directly or indirectly commit suicide or be killed during some martyrdom operation. No, this is different than stuntmen actors or typecast Mafia wiseguys who die often by somebody else's hand. This is self inflicted.
Lets begin with a few examples to see what led to Cage's pinnacle of madness that is Knowing.
1) The Rock - Cage goes on what appears to be a suicide mission to rescue hostages. As he dies from chemical weapon, he jabs a saving andrenaline needle into his heart (which if done in a wrong way will kill). He saves many lives and appears to be killed by a fiery explosion. Yet he lives.
2) Face Off - Cage goes on what appears to be a covert suicide mission by cutting off his own face and putting on a face of a mass murderer (played by another epic tortured soul John Travolta) who killed Cage's wife. Cage is a good guy wearing the face of a bad guy. He is driven to madness but saves his son and lives.
3) City of Angels - Cage commits suicide right away for love. What? Well he is an immortal angel you see who falls in love with a human and becomes a mortal human to be with her. He doesn't even get to be with her since he dies.
4) Snake Eyes - Cage decides to risk his life for love. He helps a woman who is marked for death. He lives but goes to prison.
5) 8mm - Cage decides to risk his life to find out who killed a young woman. He continues on even after it increasingly becomes a suicide mission. He is driven to madness and slaughters the perpetrators. He lives but dies inside.
6) Bringing out the Dead - Cage saves lives while slowly dying inside. He finds salvation in a young woman but merci kills her father. He lives.
7) Windtalkers - Cage goes on repeated suicide missions during WW2. He is both a good guy and a bad guy who mercilessly slaughters Japanese. He saves the life of a comrade while getting shot and killed.
8) Adaptation - Cage plays two characters who are twin brothers. The fun loving happy and life filled brother gets killed. The loser writer brother lives. Cage manages to die and survive in one movie.
9) World Trade Center - Cage is a firefighter goes on a borderline suicide mission to save lives in a burning WTC. He gets trapped in the rubble and goes into a coma. He lives but everybody else dies.
10) Vampire's Kill - Cage thinks he died and became a vampire. He tried to kill himself (again in his mind) but doesn't have what it takes. Not to worry since somebody else kills him later.
Now things start getting strange as Nicolas Cage decides to consciously kill his own serious career by appearing in movies for children and obvious B movie horror flicks. First we see National Treasure and then the final legs of the journey are completed.
11) Ghost Rider - Cage is playing a person who goes on suicide mission stunts. He is also committing career suicide by starring in a B movie designed for the borderline retarded. Cage dies in a fire but is brought to life as an anti-hero who is on fire and in constant pain. Cage goes full circle and goes from being human to an angel of death by dying. He err, lives as an undead avenger who is always on fire.
12) The Wicker Man - Cage is a cop and fails to save a woman and a girl who dies in a fire. He drinks lots of liquor and finds out that his ex-wife is missing. Yes, out of love Cage decides to find her and goes to an island controlled by a matriarchal pagan cult. He increasingly begins to believe that the woman he's looking for was either killed by being burned at the stake or is about to. He finds out that not only is she alive but the whole thing was an elaborate set up to burn Cage alive in a ridiculous ritual. His mind snaps. Cage finds himself trapped in an unnecessarily large wicker man and dies in a fire.
Move aside The Passion of the Christ. Knowing has Nicolas Cage as both Noah, a willing martyr dying a horrible death, and the father of the only male chosen to be in the new garden of Eden.
What? Yes, we've come to the most ridiculous movie of the decade and one that Cage will not be able to top. This movie also combines an incredible number of genres. It is a horror movie, an action movie, an apocalyptic movie, a movie catering to Christians, a mystery movie, a sci fi movie, a B movie, as well as a Blockbuster summer movie. It is a movie to end all movies. The equivalent of a deep fried Big Mac broken up onto a deep crust pizza. An epic movie that will liquefy your mind and spirit into goo. This movie represents a dimensional flux where Cage and Hollywood merge together in an attempt to make the audience surrender and join them in a self destructive behavior of watching and enjoying movie trainwrecks (in turn, becoming part of the wreckage themselves).
13) Knowing - Cage's wife died (not in a fire) and he has a son that he looks out for. Cage is a meteorology professor who drinks a lot. His son gets a letter from a 1959 time capsule. The letter lists all the dates of major disasters and numbers of people killed by them. Yes, some disasters didn't happen yet. Cage risks his life trying to save people but they all die anyway and he is almost killed. A jetplane for example almost smashes into Cage's car as he is waiting in traffic. He runs to rescue survivors who are burning alive. Total insanity.
He then meets a woman whose mother wrote the letter all those years ago. She has a daughter. It appears that Cage found a love interest but all is in vain. He finds out that the final disaster will kill everybody on the planet by burning them alive. It will be caused by a solar flare that he cant do anything about.
Yes, Cage comes to a realization that he cannot save anybody this time and also has knowledge that he and his son will die. This is it. Also, Cage's apparent potential love interest dies before he can even die with her a little later. He is stuck with her daughter.
Ah, but wait a second audience. In the final minutes of the movie, an alien mothership descends and tells Cage's son telepathically that he is chosen to go with them along with the little girl (they are all special and connected of course).
Cage logically wants to go on the mothership with his son and a young girl. The aliens say that he can't go since only the two children were chosen. Cage insists that he go with them and aliens appear to be fine with that. Then Cage changes his mind at the last moment and decides to stay behind and burn alive with everybody else. His son could care less and the children go into the mothership that leaves Cage whimpering on the ground in madness and horror. Then he goes back to his city. The solar flare comes and all of humanity burns alive.
Cage's son and the young girl find themselves in Eden by a tree of knowledge.
It is the end of the line for an actor who is used to playing characters at the end of the line. Knowing has increased chances of Nicolas Cage committing suicide in real life 10 fold. Hopefully that doesn't happen and Cage is reborn to save us all another day.
THE FUTURE IS RUSHING UPON US
We're in for a wild ride. Exponentially accelerating technological, cultural, and socioeconomic evolution means that every year will see more developments than the previous one. More change will happen between now and 2050 than during all of humanity's past. Let's explore the 21st century and ride this historic wave of planetary transition with a confident open mind.