#80: Army Of One (2016)

My name is Ed, and I am still trying to watch every Nicolas Cage film, then play the lottery using numbers picked from that film. This was a considerably less painful exercise back when there seemed more chance that there might be any good ones left, so I’d better bloody win soon.

Army Of One is the third Cage film of 2016 to be based on a true story! This time it’s that of the very briefly infamous Gary Faulkner, an unemployed Colorado handyman, who in 2010 was discovered in the mountains of Pakistan with a sword, a gun and a plan to assassinate Osama Bin Laden. Ha ha Gary Faulkner you idiot you failed to assassinate Osama Bin Laden and you don’t even have a Wikipedia page about it, you twat.

It’s got something else in common with Snowden, too: the film’s lead affects a distractingly odd voice which doesn’t bear any relation to the real person you might assume it’s an imitation of. In this case, Cage’s version of Gary Faulkner is not a million miles away from his near movie-wrecking performance in Peggy Sue Got Married, where he drove everyone round the bend by doing a bizarre high-pitched imitation of a cartoon horse. For the entire film. I suppose at this stage if you cast Nicolas Cage you know you’re rolling the dice on that one.

The film follows Faulkner’s various bizarre attempts to take out Bin Laden — struggling with poor planning skills (e.g. attempting to sail to Pakistan solo despite never having set foot in a boat), his own failing kidneys, and ultimately reality itself. None of which matter to him, because he’s on a mission from God. Who’s played by Russell Brand. Of course!

Brand’s had a, politely, chequered film career, but I actually quite like him in the right role (i.e. Forgetting Sarah Marshall, in which he was basically cast as himself). And if you squint can sort of see the thinking here — God as somewhere between a cult leader and Peter Cook’s off-handedly cool devil in Bedazzled. But it doesn’t sit quite comfortably with the rest of the film: Russell Brand might be someone’s vision of God, he just doesn’t seem like he’d be Gary Faulkner’s vision of God.

(The missed trick here is not just casting Cage against himself, because at a certain point what have you got to lose?)

In the end, the film fails because Cage’s version of Faulkner just isn’t much of a character — it would wear thin in a comedy sketch, let alone an entire film. So it does nothing to elevate a significantly less funny than it thinks it is script that ultimately wants us to laugh at and/or cheer for someone who, presumably, only did all this stuff because he wasn’t quite right in the head.


1 — The film is called Army of One. Let’s not make this any more difficult than it already is.

11 — Gary Faulkner claims to have made 11 attempts to assassinate Osama Bin Laden.

26 — Gary’s first attempt to reach Pakistan involved trying to sail a 26-foot yacht from San Diego. He ends up crashing it into Mexico during a hurricane.

30 — Gary’s last attempt to kill Bin Laden started with his departure from the US on May 30, 2010.

34 — During another attempt Gary decides to hang-glide into Pakistan from a mountain in Israel. He claims this is a good plan because if he misses he’ll land in the Dead Sea and float, because it has 34% salinity. This is factually accurate, according to a Google search I just did.

50 — Faulkner was 50 years old at the time of his last ‘mission’ to Pakistan.


Lottery draw: 2288

Date: Saturday 25 November, 2017

Jackpot: £5,145,663

Draw machine: Guinevere

Ball set: 1

Balls drawn: 4,7,29,45,54,56

Bonus ball: 8

Numbers selected: 1,11,26,30,34,50

Matching balls: 0

Numbers selected (lucky dip): N/A

Matching balls (lucky dip): N/A

Winnings: £0 (£0 to date)

Total Profit/Loss: £-158

0 numbers. God definitely doesn’t appear to be speaking to me through the medium of Nicolas Cage films. I guess Richard Dawkins was right.


Arsenal: in which Nic Cage possibly reprises the role of Eddie from Deadfall, despite the fact that last time we saw Eddie from Deadfall he was having his head fatally cooked in a deep fat fryer.


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