Now I have to see Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans again just to re-absorb this little snippet straight. It passed right over (or through) me during my first viewing in Toronto. I watched about 40 minutes of The Rock last night. It was vaguely startling to see Cage (a) looking so young and (b) playing a more or less normal person.

Cage was 32 at the time. The Rock was his first move — a cash-in — after the acclaim of that Mike FiggisLeaving Las Vegas (’95). He mainly starred in a series of crazy-kat super-salaried extreme action thrillers for the next four or five years (Con Air, Face/Off, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Snake Eyes) with the curious or slight or “meh” punctuations of Bringing Out The Dead, 8MM, and City of Angels.

Then came the disappointing, doleful and disorienting Family Man, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and Windtalkers, followed by two master-stroke performances in Spike Jonze‘s Adaptation and Ridley Scott‘s Matchstick Men — Cage’s last artistic glory period (’02 to ’03). Because two or three years after this began Cage’s full wackazoid streak (broken up only by the National Treasure movies) that continues to this day — The Wicker Man, Ghost Rider, that Fu-Manchu Grindhouse walk-on, Bangkok Dangerous, Knowing and Bad Lieutenant.