Mandy doesn’t allow for any middle of the road opinions. It’s going to elicit a fierce reaction of intense loathing or loving.
This is a movie with alien-like bikers with cocaine and adult movie fetishes, a bad guy with his own soundtrack and a crazy religious cult. Most importantly it features Nicolas Cage in the one film that encourages his knack for delivering completely off the wall performances.
I’m pretty sure I spent half the movie with my mouth open in stunned WTF amazement. Like Doomsday, this is a so bizarre that it becomes a stop thinking and enjoy the spectacle experience.
Even with the most open-minded perspective, the film’s first half is a pretentious artsy slog. Director/co-writer Panos Cosmatos wastes way too much time on needless gazing, posturing and absolutely pointless scene setting. Sure the cinematography by Benjamin Loeb is incredible, but the film just feels overly indulgent in its opening act.
Set in 1983, Red Miller (Cage) is living a quaint life with his wife, Mandy (Andrea Riseborough, Oblivion). Things take a tragic turn when a religious cult leader Sand Jeremiah (Linus Roache, Batman Begins) wants Mandy for himself. Left for dead, Red is ready to dish out some major (and bloody) payback.
Just when I thought I’d reached the breaking point, right around the time the bad guy starts pulling a Louis C.K. in front of Mandy, the film gets a lot more interesting.
With the help of his pal, Caruthers (Bill Duke), Red forges an axe that would make Thor jealous. And necks will not remain intact by the time Red is finished.
If ever there was a role that required Nicolas Cage to go full Nicolas Cage it’s this one. There’s not another actor capable of making Mandy work like Cage. There’s probably a very short list of actors who could manage to make a scene where his character maniacally laughs as blood gushes from his victim’s throat come off so perfectly ludicrous and entertaining.
Cage has won an Oscar, but this is the role he’s waited the entirety of his career’s second act to play. Cosmatos seems to encourage him to go as nutty as possible and matches his intensity step for step in each outrageous action scene after another.
Mandy was a film that desperately needed to go off the rails to fully reach its outlandish potential. The second hour is just full of one inspired insane action sequence after another. There’s a dueling chainsaw fight!
I’m still not sure what the heck Cosmatos and co-writer Aaron Stewart-Ahn were thinking with this script, but it’s 90 percent nonsensical and 10 percent acid trip. Just rest your brain for this one. Mandy is a far more ambitious and enjoyable film when you don’t stop to think about it.
Rating: 7.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: RLJE Films