Chances are, you've read enough about MANDY that can't already be said. It's weird, wild, feverish, and features Nicolas fucking Cage at his best. No hyperbole here, folks -- he's a tornado and shreds the screen in this here film.
Sure, at first look, MANDY may look like an easy paycheck for Cage -- he hasn't done a film he didn't dial in since 2010's KICK-ASS -- but he literally slays it here. He's all in for MANDY, and you'll believe it. This is the most fun I've seen him have in a movie in years.
Have you seen co-writer-director Panos Cosmatos' last film, BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW? That might help you enjoy the first half a bit more, but patience is a virtue. MANDY is a wild and hypnotic tale of love, macaroni and cheese, and sweet, violent revenge in the 1980s. Red (Cage) and his love Mandy (BIRDMAN's Andrea Riseborough) live in a quaint little home, in a secluded part of the woods. They are in love and life is good.
That is until a caravan full of 1980's-cult lovin' goons interrupt their innocuous life, sending Red on a path of hyper-violent revenge. (A dish best served with a colossal handmade ax, chainsaw, and whatever else he collects to kill along the way.)
I don't want to dive too much into the film because I'll be giving away so much fun, but I will say that all hopes and dreams of a completely berserk Nicholas Cage are fulfilled in this movie. It takes a little patience and time, but when it comes, you will not believe what you are seeing. (I didn't and I watch a lot of movies.)
This movie has so much hilarity to it, too, and one of its devices I love is with each villain he kills; it's like a video game -- he consumes massive amounts of alcohol, cocaine, LSD -- whatever he finds on his journey of chaos, he takes. Drugs are his Popeye spinach if you will.
What I applaud Cosmatos for most is he finally calls out villains for using God as making them indestructible -- it's all a sham. They use the Good Book and speak nonsense about God to scare, but when their reaper (Red) comes rapping, their tone changes — they quickly become feeble victims, begging for another chance. I haven't seen this in a movie before. (Don't worry, he also battles a band of four-wheelin' gimps who may or may not be from this world, and they only know how to do one thing: kill in the most violent ways imaginable.)
OK, I’m going to spoil lightly. You won't see it coming. Swear.
I have some favorite scenes from MANDY that I would like to point out. This scene is another point Cosmatos brilliantly makes about movies that we aren’t used to seeing.
In this particular scene, Red is in the process of sending one of his new foes straight to hell. The guy — feeling temporarily tough— quotes a Neil Young banger (which was made famous in HIGHLANDER and in Kurt Cobain's suicide note: "It's better to burn out than fade away”) but the dearly departed is literally cut off before he gets to finish the quote. In my head, this is Cosmatos telling the audience, “Nah, it’s not better to burn out than fade away. It’s better to stay the fuck alive, which this nerd quoting Neil young isn’t doing at this precise moment in the film. He’s now deader than Kevin Spacey’s career.”
Sure, it does take some patience to watch MANDY because of its setup — hypnotic lighting and it’s shot like a fever dream, a film that would make David Lynch smile — but I promise you, dear reader, once Cage goes uncaged, you’ll get your money’s worth. If you disagree, page me on my beeper, and I’ll give you money for giving MANDY a shot.