Blu-Ray Review – Army of One

Army of One is a new Nic Cage comedy in which he plays Gary Faulkner, an unemployed handyman who believes God had sent him to capture Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. It’s based on a true story—really and yes he was only armed with samurai sword.

Guy travels to Pakistan on the hunt for Bin Laden, and along the way God also makes an occasional appearance, played by none other than the self-appointed deity himself Russell Brand! It’s directed by Larry Charles, who is best known as a past writer for Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm, as well as for directing Borat. Morocco stands in for Pakistan for obvious reasons.

As you might imagine, the film hinges completely on Cage, who piled on the pounds, grew a beard and sports a ponytail for the part. Even in the worst films he’s in, Cage undeniably puts 110 percent into any role he tries, and this is a very ‘big’ role. And even though it’s ridiculously over the top, so is the real person the character is based on. Of the VOD films Cage has done in the last few years, of which there have been many, Army of One is definitely one of the strongest. He really goes for it, putting on a bizarre voice and reaching into his Method Acting toolkit. I’m sure there are scenes here that will be cut into one of the many compilations of Cage performances online. It even includes some self-referential tongue-in-cheek references in which Guy wonders if Cage will play him if someone ever makes a movie of his life

Although the film has had some terrible reviews, there’s a heart to it, as it’s a sympathetic portrait of someone who is clearly mentally unwell. There’s a clear influence from Don Quixote, with a dreamer who believes he can do the impossible.

The true story is stranger than fiction, but the film plays it for laughs and includes plenty of comedy moments. There’s a hallucinatory sequence in which Guy is watching TV, only to see Osama doing an MTV ‘Cribs’ episode that really is laugh out loud material. You can see Cage’s enthusiasm for Jerry Lewis’s comedies in the performance shining through in his on-screen choices. Brand pops in and out, obviously enjoying the chance to play on his persona from his ‘Messiah Complex’ tour, and he does a good job in an amusing part.

★★★

Ian Schultz

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