So, one of our favorite posts was Face Off: Travolta vs Cage. We wanted badly to do a sequel, but when we looked, Travolta’s movie production had slowed down quite a bit. Cage, on the other hand, doesn’t stop. When we thought of other actors who were once decent but have completely given up and keep pumping out the films, only Bruce Willis came to mind. So we fit a square peg into a round hole just so we could have some fun. Unfortunately, they have never appeared together. So here we go.
I was lucky enough to write about Cage last time. His films, although often terrible, give us some crazy performances and there are some risks taken. He even does some good cartoon voice work. Bruce Willis films are deeply void of any nuance or risk. He basically is Bruce Willis in each one, looking exactly the same, sounding exactly the same. I guess over his career, he really didn’t have a huge range and while making good films (Die Hard, Twelve Monkeys, Pulp Fiction), also had some bad ones (Blind Date, The Last Boy Scout, The Whole Ten Yards), but at least they were from real studios with A-list actors. He has devolved into acting with Saved By The Bell and Lifetime movie thespians. Is he not getting roles, or is he just looking for a quick pay day?
- Out of Death (2021) – His latest is from a film company called Vertical Entertainment. Willis is a retired cop headed for a quiet retreat by a lake, when things go sideways. Girl sees cops murder man, cops go after girl, retired cop protects girl, retired cops’ niece gets kidnapped. Filmed in 9 days – that’s all you need to know.
- Midnight in the Switchgrass (2021) – The worst title of 2021. “Based on a true story” – kind of. Bruce partners with Megan Fox in the hunt for a sex trafficking ring that crosses paths with a serial killer case. They find the decreasingly vanishing career of Emile Hirsch a veteran cop on the case, one he just can’t solve.
- Cosmic Sin (2021) – It’s appropriately titled, because the making of this film is a universal sin. When Frank Grillo out acts you – it’s a bad film. Another movie where the protagonist is “pulled” back in. At last checking 3% on Rotten Tomatoes, Ernest Goes to Jail is more highly rated.
- Breach (2020) – Willis plays a grizzled old janitor named Clay on a spaceship headed to the colony new Earth with lots of colonists, including Thomas Jane. Somehow it turns into a bad parody of Alien without trying to. One of the comments on YouTube was, “C’mon man, what is this?”
- Hard Kill (2020) – I call this one “Taken for Dummies”. Willis’ daughter gets kidnapped, and he has to go on “one last mission”. He recruits D level actor Jesse Metcalfe and some mercenaries, and you know the rest. Almost grossed $100,000 in Saudi Arabian theaters.
- Trauma Center (2019) – They didn’t even try to name this one. Could have been called Fire Station, or School, or Strip Club. This is more a Nicky Whelan vehicle, whomever that is. More bad cops, more Willis playing a cop trying to help Whelan who is hiding from the bad cops in – you guessed it – a trauma center.
- 10 Minutes Gone (2019) – Ten minutes, and I was gone, gone from watching this pile of stinking turd. I love Michael Chiklis, but he should stick to TV. Bruce Willis was not a main character, and I didn’t even understand what was going on.
- Air Strike (2018) – If you wanted to see Wuhan before it became the world’s “Covid capital” then Bruce has a movie for you. Another white man savior film, as Bruce goes to China in 1937 to help the Chinese fight the Japanese in the early stages of WWII – call it a pregame WWII. CGI catastrophe.
- Precious Cargo (2016) – May be the best film on this list, for what that is worth. Bruce is a crime boss who kidnaps a woman and asks a gang leader to steal from another gang leader to get said woman back. The gang leader is Mark-Paul Gosselaar and the woman is Claire Forlani (where has she been?) – a better title Saved by the Bell.
- Vice (2015) – Bruce plays CEO of a resort that allows people to live out any fantasy until one of the artificials figure out they are not real. It’s Westworld if a Philip K. Dick maniac wrote it. The original team up of Thomas Jane and Bruce Willis. A confusing mess.
Bonus – McClane (TBD) – Simple – don’t do it. The last Die Hard was a cluster of mass proportion. It made me throw up into a very deep bucket. Stop making Die Hard films – stick to your pay days that no one cares about.
MG: Looking on IMDB he has THIRTEEN more films either pending release or in some state of production. There’s one called Fortress that is in post-production, and it must be a real winner because Fortress 2 is already in pre-production. He actually had some recent respectable films – among them Motherless Brooklyn and Glass in 2019. Vice sounds like a sci-fi winner for sure. He has been successful in the past with non-action roles, such as in The Sixth Sense, so it baffles me why he hasn’t been able to make a transition to just playing older characters in more varied roles, such as Clint Eastwood was able to do. Maybe he just isn’t interested in doing real acting and just wants to pick up a paycheck for easy junk – like a film that only requires 9 days out of him to shoot. With all their B-movies in production, Cage and Willis are bound to be in one together. I vow to watch that film when it happens!
With all the streaming content out there, who is watching any obvious straight-to-video quality production? Maybe it’s an international thing? Based on the sheer volume of shit in Willis’ pipeline, it’s tempting just to give him the win for biggest career flame out. On the other hand, Cage has been taking garbage roles for longer. I actually like(d) Nic Cage as an actor, and I had hoped his roles in decent films like Kick Ass and Snowden would turn his career around, but it seems like he’s addicted to doing these wretched B-movies. The biggest news for Cage was the announcement he is playing Joe Exotic in the TV miniseries based on Netflix’ smash documentary Tiger King. Will this be a career renaissance for Cage? Don’t count on it, but then again Hollywood loves a comeback, so who knows, maybe an Emmy is in his future. I think if you dig into his catalog of the past few decades, you will find Cage takes the cake for sheer volume/variety of trash roles over Willis (and I’m not even including the 10 films DJ already went over in our first post). You be the judge:
- Bangkok Dangerous (2008) – The best pop culture thing to happen to Thailand since Murray Head’s “One Night In Bangkok”. Who knew this was a remake? I love the title, but this film feels like the start of Cage’s slide, even if a few critics praised his performance while they eviscerated everything else about the film.
- Drive Angry (2011) – Sounds like a documentary about driving in Boston, MA. You might think the tagline “All Hell Breaks Loose” is just a reference to a lot of action mayhem, but the plot actually features Cage’s character, John Milton, breaking out of Hell after 10 years (and he steals Satan’s gun on his way out – called, natch, “The Godkiller”). If this hasn’t piqued your interest yet, the whole film was shot in 3D, so if you loved Avatar, you will love….
- Dog Eat Dog (2016) – Paul Schrader was once an acclaimed writer (Taxi Driver, Raging Bull), but is lately spending the back-nine of his career forming a director/actor partnership with Nic Cage doing a trio of derivative revenge flicks including this one (with a slumming Willem Dafoe), Dying of the Light (2014) and Dark (2017).
- The Humanity Bureau (2017) – The poster (see above) is worth a laugh on its own. Cage looks bizarre, and I love the dude with the villain eye patch lurking in the background. But the story offers us a cautionary tale about global warming, so maybe this film is a way to convince those climate-change deniers out there.
- A Score To Settle (2019) – The title tells you all you need to know – yet another revenge thriller for an aging, puffy-faced Cage. If you were wondering what Benjamin Bratt has been up to, he pops up here as a former mobster-turned peaceful bar owner named Q. The Bond producers should sue for stealing that name.
- Color Out Of Space (2019) – Look at the poster, and you’ll wonder “what the F is this??!” The trailer won’t help you much.
- Kill Chain (2019) – I actually tried to watch this. It’s only 92 minutes long, in the first half, Cage is barely in it 5 minutes, even though he has top billing. You’d think “Kill Chain” would be a lot of nonstop action/violence, but the 45 minutes I watched was some of the most poorly made, and flat-out boring, film footage I’ve seen.
- Running With The Devil (2019) – Let’s just finish the list with all 2019 films – he must have had a premonition of the pandemic and just pumped these out like crazy. It’s a party of flagging acting careers with Barry Pepper, Lawrence Fishburne, Leslie Bibb, and Adam Goldberg all on board with Cage. I’d rather listen to Van Halen’s song of the same name on a loop for two hours.
- Primal (2019) – I love this review quote on Rotten Tomatoes: “Chiefly of interest to Nicolas Cage completists and hardcore B-movie fans, this action thriller suffers from an unfortunate lack of Primal energy“. Hey, now I have something to aspire to be in retirement someday: a NICOLAS CAGE COMPLETIST!
- Grand Isle (yep, 2019 again!) – The lowest rated 2019 Nic Cage film on IMDB comes in at 4.6 stars out of 10 (seems generous). Then again, anyone watching a Cage film at this point has some pretty low standards, so the rating is skewed. Grand Isle finds Cage mucking about in the career dumpster, this time with Kelsey Grammer. The plot description on Wikipedia is an affront to decent writing, so it’s hard to tell what is going on – something about Cage as a “grizzled veteran” and maybe having Girl Scout hostages stashed in his basement? Sounds like a winner.
DJ: I need to watch some of these. I swear every Nic Cage film should have a tag line “Nic Cage has a score to settle”. I swear I started watching that one and I was bored to death. Seriously his character is named John Milton in a Hell film. That is lazy character naming. I hate that writing crutch. We are going to make a horror film and the main character will be Edgar Allen Lovecraft. The Humanity Bureau comes up all the time on my list of films I “may” like. I thought it was a sequel to the Adjustment Bureau. Color Out of Space, that is some kind of poster. Grand Isle is intriguing, I may have to check it out, I thought the poster said “Grandiose” and I was in. I still may be in, Fraiser meets Bangkok Dangerous – whoo! Why doesn’t he just do a National Treasure 3 or something?