We’re living in the cinematic age of the superhero. Which is fine if crime-fighters in Lycra suits with mysterious powers mainly played by actors named Chris are your cup of tea. But if you’re old enough to remember the 1990s, you’re old enough to remember that back in those days it was all about the Action Man.
Basically every blockbuster movie that came out in the 90s was a vehicle for Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis or Steven Seagal to kick a huge amount of butt. As much as these men are all legends, we can’t forget the contribution that one Nicolas Cage made to the action movie genre.
Sure, he didn’t have the rippling bodybuilder physique of Arnie or the martial arts skillset of Jean-Claude, or even their exotic European accents. But Nic Cage has an undeniable energy, a certain vibe, a strange intensity that makes him a goddamn delight to watch.
While Nic has had box office hits throughout the decades, the 90s gifted us three dead-set classics, which all happen to be streaming right now on Disney+ Star, so it would be rude to not make an enormous bowl of popcorn and smash through all three for a weekend marathon.
After an evil US Marine (Ed Harris) takes 81 tourists hostage on Alcatraz Island (AKA The Rock) and threatens shoot rockets of poisonous gas at San Francisco, the US government enlists the help of former Alcatraz escapee John Mason (Sean Connery) who teams up with the FBI’s top chemical weapons specialist, Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (Cage), to infiltrate the island and disable Hummel’s poisonous gas rockets.
I personally love it when actors play incredibly intelligent scientific types, like that time Denise Richards was a nuclear physicist in a James Bond movie.
But I digress – The Rock is a great movie, a real caper with a great cast, but it might lose half a point because Sean Connery is the star and not Nicolas Cage. Nic should never be second fiddle to anyone.
The premise of Face/Off is absolutely ridiculous, but that’s precisely why it’s a masterpiece. Now if you haven’t seen it, please bear with me as I attempt to explain it. Face/Off is about FBI agent Sean Archer (John Travolta) whose nemesis is crazed terrorist Castor Troy (yep, Nicolas Cage is the baddie in this movie).
Archer has a good reason to hate him, since Troy tried to kill him once and shot his little boy in the process. Anyway, in order to foil a bomb plot, Archer undergoes a hi-tech facial transplant to become Castor Troy, who is in a coma.
Troy wakes, somehow cottons onto this whole plan, and ends up getting the same surgery to — you guessed it — become Sean Archer! It’s really confusing but also, incredibly awesome. Bonus points for all the wacky facial expressions Nic pulls in the film.
It’s a tough choice, but I believe Con Air is the greatest Nic Cage action flick that hit the big screen in the 90s. Is it purely because of his long, flowing, lustrous hair in the movie? …Maybe.
But it’s also an edge-of-your-seat thriller, in which recently paroled prisoner Cameron Poe (Cage) — it’s okay, he’s only in jail because he killed a bad guy so we can like him — is on a prison flight bound for freedom when it is hijacked by a gang of the worst crims in the country who are plotting a daring escape, including the mastermind of the operation, murderer Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom (John Malkovich) as well as serial killer Garland “The Marietta Mangler” Greene (Steve Buscemi) and rapist Johnny “Johnny 23” Baca (Danny Trejo).
Poe must somehow conceal his true identity while foiling the group’s nefarious plans. This movie is gripping, and plot-wise it is a genius idea to chuck a bunch of deranged criminals on a plane. Plus let’s not forget the extra genius idea of making Nicolas Cage, in his tight white singlet, the rightful hero.
Still can’t decide? Revisit all the above flicks on Disney+ Star now.