Army of One

2016 comedy-drama

Rating: 12/20

Plot: The true-ish story of eccentric Gary Faulkner, a guy who is called by God to go to Pakistan in search of Osama bin Laden.

This had potential to be something pretty great. I mean, Nic Cage gets an excused to be unhinged, Larry Charles directed the thing, and it's the kind of stranger-than-fiction true-life story that deserves a movie. If you're looking for something entertaining, especially if you're a fan of the bizarre career of Nicolas Cage, then you should stop what you're doing and watch this immediately. If you're looking for a great movie, you can probably find something else.

I don't know where to begin with Cage. Most of what he does in this too-prolific part of his career is pretty boring. He shows up, does his Nic Cage thing, and takes home a paycheck. One might think the type of utterly insane work he did in stuff like Deadfall or Vampire's Kiss might be behind him. Although he doesn't quite reach the insane heights of those performances, he comes a lot closer than you might expect as Faulkner. Cage takes the dash of peculiarity and quirk already embedded in this particular character and he adds a few heaping spoonfuls of Nic Cage. It's the type of thing that touches on something magical a few times. There are just a ton of near-classic Nicolas Cage moments:

--A whiny freakout when he's talking to the annoying "God" character Russell Brand plays
--His answer to the "reason for your visit" question at an airport: "Taking care of business!" with a snorty laugh
--Great lines with Cagian deliveries: "You got to talk to the meat!" or "Does the Bearded One go to Denny's?" or "If these aren't the best chicken wings you've ever tasted, then I'm not the Donkey King!" or "They don't call me the psychic wizard for nothing!" or "This ain't my first rodeo, hombre!"
--Watching him puff on a joint
--When he plays a real-life version of fruit ninja. "Hey!"
--Rides both a donkey and a camel
--Sports a fez, more than likely because he discovered that he had one at home and brought it to the set one day
--Has a great movie drug trip in which he tells a kid on a coin-operated horse to "Ride it, cowboy" and kicks a pinball machine after walking around and laughing at things for five minutes
--"Y-y-y-y-y-y-yeh yeah y-y-yeah!"
--His laughing at Osama bin Laden, something truly magical
--His method of picking up girls: "I fantasized about you and went through boxes of Kleenex" is just an irresistible line, right?

The character is wacky, but it's a consistent wackiness that makes me wonder how difficult it would have been for the other actors to not break out into laughter during the shoot. The character's ramblings and mannerisms are in no way realistic, but nobody is going to watch this and say that Cage isn't creating something unique. It's a real character. He gets louder as the movie goes, the weird voice he adopts (which doesn't really match the voice of the real Gary Faulkner who's shown in the credits) wavers like all good Nic Cage voices and accents waver, and he gets to wear a ponytail. And he dances? Did I mention that?

Terrible music, an annoying portrayal of God, a great deal of the humor which just falls flat, some clumsy meta, and an Osama parody that completely takes away any last shred of realism for this story all conspire to sink this thing. It's not particularly well written, and there's probably too much going on at different times. But again, if you enjoy the wackiness of Nic Cage, it hasn't been this consistently wacky since Bad Lieutenant.

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