Release Date: September 14, 2018 (Limited and VOD)
Director: Panos Cosmatos
MPAA Rating: NR
Run Time: 121 Minutes
This is a repost of our review from Sundance 2018. Mandy opens in theaters and on VOD platforms today.
It’s been a whopping eight years since director Panos Cosmatos made his debut with the visually stunning cult favorite Beyond the Black Rainbow, and his anticipated follow-up, Mandy, has finally premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Equally as strong in the visuals department, this ’80s-set thriller is a chaotic, drug-fuelled, heavy metal, balls-to-the-wall extravaganza of violence and carnage.
Nicolas Cage stars as Red, a lumberjack enjoying life in the wilderness with his doting wife, Mandy. After Mandy is kidnapped by a group of drugged-out bikers on the orders of a religious cult, Red goes on a violent warpath to end every single one of them.
A lot has been said about Cage over the last few years, with many of his roles seeming to compliment his crazy persona, but his Mandy part is the role he was meant for. Cosmatos fully embraces Cage’s “Cageiness” and allows him to go all in, providing one of his wildest and greatest roles to date.
I can’t even begin to put into words what transpires in this film, but I will say there’s a moment where he chops off someone’s head, lights it on fire, then uses said burning severed head to light up a cigarette. That should be enough to make you want to give this thing a look.
From its over-the-top and completely unnecessary use of title cards to its pumping score, Mandy oozes with ’80s metal style, and it only gets crazier after the drugs are brought into the mix. Although he may not be the best storyteller, Cosmatos has a knack for visuals, making everything radiate cool.
One of the major problems I had with Beyond The Black Rainbow was its lack of any kind of substantial narrative, packing plenty of great imagery but very little plot to back it up. The same can be said about Mandy, though there’s certainly more going on here. As wild as it gets, the pacing is rather slow, and even after the action picks up, there are far too frequent strange drug-trip sequences. I can’t help but feel some additional cuts would have been a huge benefit to keeping the action moving.
Still, it’s the brutal finale that makes the slog getting there completely worth it. The only thing crazier than regular Nic Cage, is a coked-up, LSD-infused Nic Cage, and it’s an absolute blast to see him take out Hellraiser-esque bikers and weird cult members in the most violent ways imaginable.
Cosmatos never takes the material too seriously, at times not seriously at all, meticulously crafting every moment to be as ridiculous and over the top as possible. This isn’t a film for everyone, but it will no doubt reach the same cult status as Beyond the Black Rainbow and is absolutely the definitive, Nic Cage craziness movie.