It’s always a pleasant surprise to be reminded just how good an actor Nicolas Cage is, particularly when the enigmatic star has released a run of real clunkers.
Coming off the back of recent scenery-gnawing turns in multiplex landfill like ‘Stolen’, ‘Trespass’ and ‘Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance’, Cage’s new movie ‘Joe’ is the most pleasant surprise he’s delivered since Herzog’s sublime ‘Bad Lieutenant’.
He plays the eponymous self-contained (not often a phrase associated with Cage) ex-con who befriends a hard-working boy whose deadbeat father, Wade, seems set on destroying himself and his family.
It’s all set in backwater America, where the cops and the robbers sometimes appear interchangeable and no law is ever absolute. There’s no doubt that Joe is a criminal but, as pragmatism gives way to anger, he’s clearly the lesser of a multitude of evils.
The greatest of these is Wade, who reaches often desperate levels of depravity. It’s a movie-stealing performance by Gary Poulter, whose alcohol-related death shortly after the film wrapped adds a further level of bleakness.