In the lead up to Christmas, we’re once again inundated with consumer marketplace tat that we don’t need and don’t want. There are the inevitable Christmas DFS ads that will be rammed down our throats every twenty minutes during Coronation Street, proclaiming that the SALE IS NOW ON! The actors involved will bellow at us like the guy from the Cillet Bang commercials to BUY! BUY! BUY! So we’ll pick up our remote control and hurl it at our recently purchased 4K TV set, before dropping to our knees weeping, because we know…we know that in the dark recesses of our minds in the end, it doesn’t really matter, none of it really matters: we’re getting older and soon we’re going to wither away and die. Our destiny consists of thinning hair and liver spots. Maybe dialysis if we’re lucky.
Some of these consumer names however, are synonymous with quality: Gucci. Rolex. Mercedes Benz. Just uttering these brand names screams sexiness, like a dominatrix armed with nothing but a pair of marigolds and a whip. If that’s your thing.
Another brand name is Nicolas Cage. Yes, I don’t really care what you think; the man is a genius that can do no wrong. If you do think I’m wrong, then check out this YouTube clip aptly titled: ‘Nicolas Cage Losing His Shit.’
Don’t worry…I’ll wait for you.
Can you imagine the sheer willpower and force required to create and maintain that level of energy? For over 20 years?? Genius. Is the man suffering from a mid-life crisis? Possibly. But it’s so entertaining to watch. When Cage announced he was a bit drained from playing his more ‘boisterous’ characters, it’s easy to see why after watching Army of One that the man is an icon. A brand. A Mercedes-fucking-Benz.
Loosely based on the GQ true story, Army of One pits Cage on a mission from God (played by Russell Brand). The unemployed ex-con receives a message from the big man in the clouds (or in this case, on his dialysis machine) telling him he must seek out Osama Bin Laden. With nothing but his dim wits, perseverance, and a Katana sword he bought from a home shopping network, Faulkner heads to Pakistan. This strange comedy finds Cage plummeting farther into the depths of his own bug-eyed eccentricity, and with roles such as Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call and its spiritual sequel Dog Eat Dog (out soon), Army of one is a manic performance shifting from off-the-wall insanity to delusional optimism, then fluctuating again to the abyss of unpredictability.
Faulkner has the child-like idea that he’ll simply travel to Pakistan by sailboat from San Diego, and when that attempt ends as bad as you think it might, he has another idea to hang glide in from an Israeli mountaintop with a reassembled hang glider he idiotically sawed into pieces for travel benefits, which ends with equally idiotic and humorous consequences.
At the heart of the film though, although Faulkner clearly has a mental illness, it’s his gung-ho attitude and tenacity to push on ahead and protect the people he loves to the end of the earth no matter what that creates an empathetic and peculiar relationship with the viewer.
Gary has his friend Pickles (played by Paul Scheer) and a romantic interest in Marci (Chenoa Morison) who are the voices of reason in his lunacy and in the end when he goes off yet again to Pakistan to find Bin Laden, you feel for Marci’s character – it may be easy to shake your head and say, ‘if that was me, I’d just close the door and not let him back into my life,’ but it’s the love that resonates between the characters that the viewer invests and in the end you find yourself getting dragged into Faulkner’s warped version of the world. Like Alice following the rabbit into the hole, you’ll also find yourself tumbling down further into Faulkner’s crazy reality.
Army of One will make you fall between one of two thin lines: those that believe Cage is something of a meta-joke in our day and age, that his wildly over-the-top performances has made it so that there is no real truth to compare him against, or you’ll understand that it’s parody – a lively, irregular caricature of life rather than a representation that we can take seriously even for a split second – but a ride nonetheless that you’ll go along with, screaming at the top of your lungs, ‘I’m a vampire! I’m a vampire!’
I, for one, remain in the latter category.
Army of One is written by Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman and directed by Larry Charles.
KATANA WIELDING SURREALNESS
Review by Anthony Self
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