Nicolas Cage has starred in several blockbusters and won an Oscar in his career. At the same time, the actor has had his fair share of films that have been considered, especially in the 2010s when his career went through a turbulent period. Never one to shy away from bizarre and experimental roles, Cage ended up making critically acclaimed films like Joe and Mandy along with notorious releases like Left Behind and 211.
While Cage has made a few so-called “bad movies” in the past (Zandalee, Deadfall), he starred in a number of direct-to-DVD movies in the 2010s, almost all of which were critical flops. And yet, there’s something about Cage’s energetic personality and eccentric hyperbole that continues to draw fans to his work. As such, some of his worst films actually make for good guilt.
Drive Furious (2011)
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John Milton escapes Hell while stealing Satan’s personal weapon, The Godkiller. He returns to Earth to seek revenge on a cult leader who killed his daughter. All hell breaks loose when Cage’s Milton hijacks cars and embarks on a cross-country road trip to track down the satanic antagonist.
With such an outrageous plot, it’s easy to conclude that Drive Angry isn’t art house cinema. Rather, it’s a grindhouse treat and might even double as a “big-budget B-movie.” The cheesy dialogue and car chases are over the top, but they still add some mindless fun to the pantheon of devil worshiper horror movies. Cage’s acting is reminiscent of a similar role in Ghost Rider, while William Fitcher steals the show by playing Satan’s accountant.
An Army (2016)
Rent on Apple TV
These days, Nicolas Cage seems to deliberately take on the most absurd projects. The adventure comedy Army of One bears witness to this. The one-man army in question is ex-con Gary Faulkner, a man who is given a divine dream in which God Himself directs him to kill Osama Bin Laden. Armed with a katana, Faulkner takes it upon himself to kill the terrorist leader in Pakistan.
The film received mostly negative reviews, but its unconventional premise itself makes it worth watching. As if all that wasn’t strange enough, God and Bin Laden also appear as supporting characters in Army of One.
The Wicker Man (2006)
Rent on Vudu
Sometimes horror film remakes can make improvements over the original or completely ruin the legacy of the source material. The 2006 remake of The Wicker Man falls into the latter category, offering Nicolas Cage at his over-the-top best (or “worst,” as critics would put it). The actor plays a police officer whose pursuit of his missing daughter takes him to an island inhabited by “new heathens”.
The atmospheric tension of the original British folk horror film becomes unintentionally comic in the American remake. The highlight, of course, is the infamous final scene in which Cage’s character is sacrificed and tortured with live bees. Cage screaming “Not the bees” has since become a viral internet meme.
Big Island (2019)
Stream on Hulu, Crackle and Tubi
Grand Isle, a campy noir thriller, begins with a young man visiting a house owned by two terrible strangers. One is a disgruntled Vietnam War veteran while the other is his wife obsessed with having children. Chaos ensues when the couple reveals some dark secrets from their past.
Grand Isle could have been a fascinating watch, but it only devolves into a panic-inducing series of scattered mishaps. The highlight for Nic Cage fans are the actor’s signature outbursts of anger, complete with loud screams and over-the-top physical mannerisms. KaDee Strickland joins in with an equally emotional display of exaggeration. A case in point is a scene where they both lash out at each other because Cage’s character forgot their 15th anniversary.
Ghost Rider (2007)
Rent on Apple TV
Nicolas Cage’s first foray into the superhero genre was with the Ghost Rider franchise. While both films drew negative reactions, the first still has some replay value. The visual effects may not be top notch, but Nicholas Cage’s transformation into the flaming skeleton hero is bizarrely cool for its time.
Wes Bentley’s villainous role as the devil’s son Blackheart is decent enough too, while Sam Elliott also stars in the film as the janitor, the former “Cowboy Ghost Rider”. Superhero films subvert the genre with more emotional depth and connections between the franchises. However, if viewers are looking for a simple entertainer of the genre, Ghost Rider would be a good blast from the past.
G Force (2009)
Stream on Disney+
Nicolas Cage is no stranger to voice acting, lending his voice to acclaimed films like The Croods and Into The Spider-Verse. But before those credits, he voiced the star-nosed mole Speckles in the Disney comedy G-Force. The eponymous special security team are trained guinea pigs whose latest mission is to take down a tech billionaire.
The concept of the film is intentionally silly as it is aimed at younger viewers. And maybe that’s why, despite the low ratings, it’s still enjoyable. Cage’s character is the strategist of G-Force, which also includes other creatures voiced by Sam Rockwell, Penélope Cruz, and Jon Favreau.
Season of the Witch (2011)
Stream on Starz
In Season of the Witch, a medieval fantasy film starring Nicolas Cage and Claire Foy, the latter plays an alleged witch while the former appears as a knight tasked with taking her to a monastery. On the journey ahead, the knight’s loyalty will be tested as he learns more about the so-called “witch”.
Much like The Wicker Man, Season of the Witch seems intense on the surface, but it plays out as unintended comedy. The dated VFX and clunky writing accompany a visibly boring Nicolas Cage. If fans are still wondering about Cage’s chemistry with a character actor like Ron Perlman or Claire Foy’s career before The Crown, they still need to give the film a shot.
USS Indianapolis: Brave Men (2016)
Stream on IMDb TV & Tubi
There are just so many WWII movies out there that it’s hard to create a movie from that era that isn’t riddled with the same old recurring tropes. USS Indianapolis is indeed a different kind of WWII film as it feels more like a low budget disaster movie set in the middle of war.
Inspired by the real-life crew of the ship that was sunk in shark-infested waters, Cage leads the ensemble cast like the Navy captain he portrays. While critics say the USS Indianapolis is a sinking ship of a movie, there’s pulp-level fun in this disaster craft.
Stream to Plex
To put it simply, Deadfall is widely considered to be one of Nicolas Cage’s worst films. The plot involves a con man who is looking for a double for his father for an undercover operation. Cage appears as Eddie King, a terrifying crime boss with an even more terrifying mustache.
This crime drama was directed by Nicolas Cage’s brother and Francis Ford Coppola’s nephew Christopher Coppola. Deadfall is clearly not a godfather, but Cage fans can still spot the first hints of his “screaming and throwing” acting style.
Left Behind (2014)
Stream to IMDb TV
When the world ends in biblical catastrophe, the few survivors try to find meaning in their post-apocalyptic lives. Nicolas Cage plays a pilot who is also portrayed as a neglectful father and husband. In the course of the so-called “rapture” he has to deal not only with his personal problems but also with the general chaos of the world. But the real chaos turns out to be the film as a whole.
Left Behind, a three-time Razzie nominee, is a film to “leave behind” if viewers expect a good quality Nicolas Cage film. But for those who can stick around for the actor’s worst works, Left Behind will be a classic. After all, even Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 1% rating!
NEXT: Nicolas Cage’s 10 Best Recent Movies, ranked by IMDb
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About the author
(647 published articles)
Shaurya Thapa is an Indian freelance journalist primarily covering writing on cinema, music and human interest features. When it comes to screen rants, he writes lists on a variety of topics ranging from international films to mainstream Netflix series and comic trivia. He also hosts a podcast called “BhindiWire,” an Indian parody of IndieWire.
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