From the press notes I was handed at the advance screening:
"NICOLAS CAGE (Kyle Miller): Doctorate of Fine Arts, Cal State Fullerton; Colonel, Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, New Orleans Metro Area; Ambassador for Global Justice, United Nations Office on Drug and Crime; Amnesty International Luminary."
That's the actor's bio for the purposes of this film. About, oh, 100% of the time, these bios are a list of film and TV career highlights that journalists can refer to while writing a review or feature. And that's the entirety of his bio, too. No Academy Award mention. No Hollywood royalty/Coppola connections. Just Bad Lieutenant cred and an ambassadorship related to drugs. I don't even know what a person does to become a Luminary with Amnesty International but you can bet it involves accomplishing some sort of human trafficking rescue mission on a motorcycle.
By contrast, the one for Nicole Kidman --she plays his wife in this tawdry home invasion-themed movie -- goes on for about a thousand words. So it's refreshing to see Cage's other accomplishments, and only those other accomplishments, on display here. They left off "Used to own a really rockin' Bavarian castle" and "Did the greatest Pachinko commercials ever made for Japanese television" and "Named his kid after Superman," but he probably didn't want to brag.
I don't think it's necessary to defend Cage. He knows exactly what he's doing: getting himself out of the financial crapper and making objectively terrible movies to reach that goal. And even if he hadn't stumbled into money-management issues, he'd probably still be cranking out these dumb films. That bio proves one thing above all else: this guy does exactly as he pleases, and what pleases him is genre film, getting paid and being a freaky badass. So "objectively terrible" doesn't matter, engaging your fascination with what move he'll make next does.
In this, his latest trashy movie but absolutely not his last -- Ghost Rider 2 is coming and he urinates fire in the trailer, so top that -- he's a diamond dealer whose fancy, minimalist, architecturally important home is invaded by robbers. That's when he and Nicole Kidman have to out-maneuver, out-punch and out-yell the crime people. You know how it's going to end and yet it never loses steam because it keeps on earnestly trying to convince you that there's a high-stakes game of "Who's Zoomin' Who?" going on. It's idiot to the core but never not entertaining, like watching a violent sitcom pilot or indulging a little kid who keeps prodding you with "Guess what?" when you know the answer is always going to be "Chicken butt."
It's movies like this that make the star-rating system (2.5 for half-yes and half-no) inadequate to really explain how much pleasure there can be in 90 minutes of bad cinema. Because "objectively terrible" here means "please enjoy extra-large nachos and a pizza-pretzel while viewing, and count your lucky stars you didn't buy a ticket to the Owen Wilson bird-watching movie." Now go help Cage buy back that castle. He needs it.