Celebrities playing themselves can either be enormously cringeworthy, or, if they’re sufficiently self-deprecating, positively endearing. But few throw themselves bodily into the task with quite the gusto Nicolas Cage summons here, skewering his own excesses with a surprisingly sharp eye. You might expect hilarious, and sometimes unbearably awkward, results; what you won’t see coming is how heart-warming director Tom Gormican’s film is.
This ‘Nick’ Cage shares the real man’s filmography, but he’s monstrously committed to his own stardom and unable to see the toll it has taken on ex-wife Olivia (Sharon Horgan) and daughter Addy (Lily Mo Sheen). He reluctantly accepts an invitation to a millionaire’s birthday party to pay off some debts, and bonds with the eccentric Javi (Pedro Pascal). Alas, CIA agent Vivian (Tiffany Haddish) intervenes to tell Cage that Javi is a drug lord. She recruits Cage to work against his host in order to recover a kidnap victim and prevent a coup.
Cage portrays himself as an egotist and a fool, so committed to his art that he’s missed out on life
It's cheerfully nonsensical, of course, shot in a sun-drenched luxury compound straight from the big book of action movie clichés, yet lacking the flourishes of a John Woo or a Michael Bay. But the growing friendship between enthusiastic superfan Javi and the wary, damaged star is special.
Pascal dances along an impossible line between glowingly sincere and impossibly sinister, his performance emphasising that The Mandalorian missed a trick by denying us his face for so long. Cage portrays himself as an egotist and a fool, haunted by his younger ideals and so committed to his art that he’s missed out on life. These two damaged men find something in each other, so that you’ll cheer them on despite their failings. Who knew that watching Cage’s ‘nouveau shamanic’ capering could be so delightful?
In UK cinemas Apr 15 and US theaters Apr 22.