Alongside the intensive method play was the usual dedication: Cage participated in stunts, braved an increasingly cold and seized prison, and even laughed at his own fear of heights. It was a performance he would later describe as a “true personal best”, adding, “I have to think outside the box”.
Cage’s insane mastery might well have been overlooked if not for the efforts of Travolta and Woo, of course. The Hong Kong director’s eye for a striking and distinctive action sequence has prompted shootouts in churches, airports and dueling speedboats, sometimes accompanied by “Over the Rainbow”, while the slightly approaching more sedate from Travolta created a cool contrast.
Front/OffCage’s success marked the end of a wild two-year stretch in Cage’s career – but it wasn’t something fans would soon forget.
Cage had started 1996 as an eccentric Oscar winner with ambitions of becoming a successful star. By early 1998, he had managed to recalibrate action cinema away from the goons and Kung Fu kicks to something that prioritized dramatic performance over athleticism.
Cage’s cult has crystallized, with the man himself poised to advance his craft in a strange new future. But, in truth, it would be as good as it gets for Cage. A selection of misguided attempts to expand his acting repertoire followed by middling efforts like Snake-eyes, 8mmand I’m going there in 60 seconds not all have reached the same heights as the Holy Trinity.
Although Cage has garnered many positive reviews for movies like Adaptation, as the next two decades progressed, he evolved more and more into a hollow pastiche of his former self. Hampered by ill-advised investments both personal and financial, Cage went from being a careful guardian of his craft to a gun for hire, appearing in eight films of varying quality in 2018 alone.