My name is Ed, and of the four Nicolas Cage films I’ve watched this year, none has either a) won me the lottery or b) been any good at all. This exercise was significantly less dispiriting when I knew there were at least half-decent films left to watch. Still, they do say life is full of surprises!
Unfortunately, Arsenal isn’t one of them, because I watched it in January to prepare for an appearance on the CageClub podcast. At the time I was heavily medicated due to a severe case of tonsillitis; no such luck now.
Arsenal, released under its working title of Southern Fury in the UK to avoid anyone thinking it was about football, is in many ways a very bad film. It tells the story of two brothers — the good brother (the guy from Entourage) earning an honest crust at his construction business, and the bad brother (“Get me Billy Bob Thornton! Except a loooooooot cheaper.”) trying and failing at being a drug dealer. When the bad brother is held for ransom, is the good brother prepared… to go bad? Who cares!
Does the guy from Entourage have a fan club? If he does they’re probably the only people who would have bothered to watch this dross, if not for one thing. Which is, of course, Nicolas Cage, who plays the bad guy. But not just any bad guy. He plays the same bad guy he played in Deadfall, 25 years ago. Sort of.
Deadfall was an ineptly camp crime thriller with one major redeeming feature: the most unhinged performance of Cage’s entire career. Its major unredeeming feature is that Cage’s character dies halfway through. Which would suggest that Arsenal is not literally intended as a sequel. But the characters are in the same vein to the point of sharing a first name, Eddie.
And Eddie has a brother, in subplot intended to counterpoint the main tale of brotherly love. He’s played by Christopher Coppola — for those of you just joining us, he’s a) Nic Cage’s actual brother and b) the director of the aforementioned Deadfall. Unfortunately he doesn’t appear to be able to c) act — his scenes, all two-handers with Cage, are fascinatingly bad. It feels like something they did for a laugh while pissed up one Christmas got edited into an actual film.
The Eddie scenes are the highlight of the film — Cage doesn’t quite hit the deranged screeching highs of the 1993 performance (and there’s no repeat of perhaps that film’s greatest moment — sadly this time the wig stays firmly on his head). But they’re not enough of the film to make it worth watching, and very little else in it rises/falls to their level. Apart from perhaps the finale, a high octane gunfight in which men keep inexplicably being shot in the dick. I guess even the director was getting bored at that stage.
In the main, Arsenal is an extremely unremarkable thriller with almost nothing to recommend it. The most compelling character in the film is a stun grenade: it doesn’t talk, but it does at least have some kind of narrative arc in which it eventually fulfils its destiny. The rest of the film had worn me down so much that I genuinely cheered. And actually, we never do see much of an arsenal in the film — it’s basically just the stun grenade. Which kind of makes it the title character? I hope it gets a spin-off.
3 — Eddie spent three years in jail before getting screwed over by his brother.
4 — There’s a July 4th barbecue in this film. ‘MERICA!
5 — Entourage guy tells a boring story: when he was 5 he heard someone talking about Jesus and thought they were talking about his older brother. What larks.
10 — Entourage guy lends his brother $10,000 for rent. The brother immediately spends this on drugs to sell, which are immediately stolen. Good job!
23 — The opening of the film is set 23 years before the rest of it. Nicolas Cage’s character isn’t discernibly younger, so maybe Eddie from Deadfall is actually immortal. Which means he can co-star in the stun grenade movie.
35 — Entourage guy is told he has to deliver $350,000, or his brother will die. Should have just tried watching Nicolas Cage movies and playing the lottery, mate.
Lottery draw: 2289
Date: Wednesday 29 November, 2017
Draw machine: Lancelot
Ball set: 4
Balls drawn: 20,32,42,43,53,58
Bonus ball: 8
Numbers selected: 3,4,5,10,23,35
Matching balls: 0
Numbers selected (lucky dip): N/A
Matching balls (lucky dip): N/A
Winnings: £0 (£0 to date)
Total Profit/Loss: £-160
Absolutely nothing. Maybe I’ll switch to watching movies with stun grenades in and playing the Euromillions.
NEXT TIME, ON WINNING THE LOTTERY WITH NICOLAS CAGE:
Vengeance: A Love Story. Please don’t be a shit revenge thriller, please don’t be a shit revenge thriller, please don’t be a shit revenge thriller.