Uncaged - Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) & The Family Man (2000)
This year, I am going to try to get through the whole oeuvre of Nicolas Cage because my fascination with this man and his contradictions is endless. God help me.
Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
Gone in 60 Seconds is basically just another slick Bruckheimer production. The man knew how to deliver a product that would do well in theaters and provide solid B entertainment, and occasionally, these movies could transcend their lowly origins when a director was really given some serious freedom to do what they wanted (Michael Bay for The Rock or Simon West for Con Air). Dominic Sena might have had considerable success as a music video director, but his feature film career is decidedly much less illustrious (Swordfish, Season of the Witch). The movie flows well enough and there are some legitimately good action scenes especially the last action scenes, which were apparently improvised, though I’m not sure how possible that is with a big feature film like this one.
This movie is not nearly as concerned about character or motivation as it should be since relatively little time is devoted to developing why Cage feels so invested in saving his little brother, whom he has hasn’t seen in years. The ultimate revelation about why Cage’s character left in the first place feels unearned and pasted on, which makes sense since this movie went through plenty of rewrites, which is admittedly not unusual for a movie of this financial scope, but it felt painfully obvious here.
Also, Angelina Jolie is seriously underserved. Apparently this role was written for her. Clearly, the people who did this didn’t think much of her, even after her Oscar-winning turn the previous year in Girl, Interrupted. These men clearly couldn’t see beyond her weird sexpot image that she was known for. Liking to drive cars and knowing how to steal them are not character traits, but the screenwriters worked from the outside in with those superficial traits as their starting point. This movie also could have easily cut her part and worked about as well since she adds nothing to the plot.
As for Cage, I think he’s too good for this movie. He clearly heard the notes about his character’s background, and he plays his character with the appropriate pathos and reluctance while giving a convincing performance as the coolest guy that everyone would look up to. It’s unfortunate that no one else took those notes, and the whole movie comes off as a soulless, shiny product, which would become immediately overshadowed by The Fast and the Furious franchise, which took everything about this movie and improved on it (eventually, by the fifth one anyways).
The Family Man (2000)
This movie is very much reverse It’s a Wonderful Life, in which Nicolas Cage plays a tool of a Wall Street businessman who gets a “glimpse” of the life he could have had if he hadn’t left his girlfriend (Tea Leoni) for an ultimately lucrative career. It’s very much meant for families, but I don’t know how well it plays to those audiences. For one thing, Cage’s Jack Campbell stays a tool for a really long time in this movie, to the point that I was seriously doubting that he really loved Kate (Leoni) in the first place. For example, he seriously considers sleeping with one of his neighbors, even though this movie makes it clear that he is supposed to be really in love with Kate. I think the script is to blame here, mainly because it not only skips long stretches of time (the movie starts on Christmas and ends of Valentine’s Day), but it also skips necessary emotional development too, especially Kate, who is pissed at Jack one scene and then totally fine with him the next.
I also think Cage is miscast in this movie, since he can play the Wall Street douchebag quite well, but he never quite pulls off the loving husband and father bit as convincingly. This movie really needed someone who could pull off both convincingly, such as John Travolta, who was originally considered for Cage’s role. I did like the scene between Cage and his daughter (Makenzie Vega) in which she knows that Cage isn’t really her father, and Cage is finally able to convince someone of this fact. It’s a nice bit of comedy in which Cage’s odd presence is actually acknowledged, and this movie would have been a lot better with more moments like these.