Wait for it.
Wait for it.
You know it’s coming.
In every Nicolas Cage movie, there’s going to be the moment when he starts screaming, when he loses it, when rage and despair engulf him.
This has become so much his trademark, probably unintentionally, that a compilation of those moments went viral a couple months ago. (It has been watched by nearly 1.8 million viewers on YouTube.)
Cage, who turns 47 Friday, has been making movies for three decades. It has been a checkered career, though he has had his share of box-office hits and deservedly earned a Best Oscar win for 1995’s “Leaving Las Vegas.”
Of late, there haven’t been a lot of high points.
The nephew of Francis Ford Coppola, Cage got into the business early, showing up in “Fast Times in Ridgemont High” in 1982. From the start, with his pinched, nasal voice and sharp-featured countenance, he was an odd presence on screen and not, it would seem, a natural leading man.
I remember the movie in which he won me over: 1986’s “Peggy Sue Got Married.” In this time-travel comedy directed from his uncle, Cage was Kathleen Turner’ doofus of a high school boyfriend and, later, husband. He played the role with fierce abandon, glorying in the character’s stubborn-headed dumbness.
As both Turner’s character and audiences discovered, there was no point resisting him because he was never ever going to give up.
I think, to some extent, that explains Cage’s long-lasting appeal, even in the hoariest of programmers. He’s never gonna give up, he’ll scream if he has to, and he’s always going to be a hero in his own mind.
He is going to keep coming at you, and at the role, until he wears you down. He’s going to be as weird as he wants to be. It’s as if he is Chris Walken, but reborn as a leading man rather than a character actor.
“Peggy Sue” marked the beginning of the golden period in Cage’s career, when he starred in quirky comedy after quirky comedy, including “Raising Arizona” and “Moonstruck.”
Then, he turned into an action hero, first in a series of popular albeit preposterous Jerry Bruckheimer-produced films such as 1996’s “The Rock” and 1997’s “Con Air” and more recently in the “National Treasure” series and “Ghost Rider.”
Along the way, there have been fascinating, more complex performances in smaller, darker films, such as “Leaving Las Vegas,” in which he played a man intent on drinking himself to death. Also worth seeing are 2002’s “Adaptation,” 2005’s “Lord of War” and 2009’s remake of “The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call — New Orleans.”
But at least half his output these days is in lousy, cookie-cutter films. (News accounts of his financial troubles would seem possibly to explain his willingness to sign on for such projects, all of which offer a higher pay day than an indie film.)
The new, silly “Season of the Witch” is another forgettable trifle from Cage. In it, he plays a knight in the 14th century who’s weary after years of fighting in the Crusades. He’s fed up with being asked to slaughter in God’s name.
He and a fellow knight (Ron Perlman, who’s amusing) are given one last mission: to escort a teenage girl accused of being a witch to a remote monastery. She’s to be tried there, as the monastery’s monks possess the last copy of an ancient book containing a spell capable of overcoming the demon possibly possessing the girl.
All of which means an arduous journey during which Cage and his companions encounger various mysterious deaths, the black plague, multiple sword fights, rampaging wolves (all that’s missing is “Twilight’s” Taylor Lautner) and lots of special effects-created demons.
There’s also plenty of anachronistic, tough guy joking and dialogue (“S—,” Cage exclaims at one point), gloomy castle and village sets that look like they are left over from “Van Helsing,” and — you knew it was coming — Cage losing it.
He does so several times, but my favorite comes when, enraged, he un-Cages his fury and yells at a lecturing priest, “No man has spilled more blood in God’s name than I!”
Someone needs to add that clip to Cage’s losing-it video montage.