Nicolas Cage is an acting veteran who has appeared in more than 70 films, winning a Best Actor Academy Award for his searing portrayal of a writer drinking himself to death in Leaving Las Vegas. He’s also famous for turning in wildly over-the-top, hammed to the hilt performances without breaking a sweat. His hardcore fans praise his best films (Adaptation, Red Rock West, Bringing Out The Dead) even as they adore his arguably terrible ones (Gone in Sixty Seconds, Drive Angry, The Wicker Man) just because he’s Nic Cage.
Still, with the exception of 2013’s successful animated feature The Croods – in which he voiced the patriarch of a family of cave-dwellers – his last real hit would be 2010’s Kick-Ass, and his last critically celebrated turn might date back to 2006’s World Trade Center. For the last few years Cage’s output has mainly consisted of a series of generic, straight-to-DVD/VOD action flicks.
And then there’s the upcoming Joe, directed by David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express). The straightforward drama stars Cage as Joe Ransom, an ex-con with a violent past who befriends a young boy named Gary (Tye Sheridan), who is routinely abused. As seen in the film’s international trailer, Joe’s friendship with the boy threatens his stability and could lead to his past rearing its ugly head.
A new U.S. trailer for Joe brings us a more linear, less abstract look at this story. You watch it up above.
David Gordon Green is best known to mainstream audiences for broad comedies like Your Highness or Pineapple Express, but he rose to fame with a series of low-key character dramas like George Washington, All the Real Girls and Undertow. With Joe and last year’s Prince Avalanche starring Emile Hirsch and Paul Rudd, Green appears to have distanced himself from mainstream studio fare, at least for the moment.
The film has drawn plenty of comparisons with Jeff Nichols’ Mud (also co-starring Sheridan), both for its similar narrative and setting as well as featuring a grounded performance by a star previously known for schlocky Hollywood movies (Matthew McConaughey). So far, Joe has garnered critical acclaim from its film festival run, as well as winning Tye Sheridan the Best Young Actor award at last year’s Venice Film Festival.
Will Cage’s performance in Joe lead to a creative comeback of sorts, in line with what McConaughey has accomplished? That remains to be seen – his next two films are the action flick Tokarev (man fights the Russian mob) and the religious-themed Left Behind (man fights the forces of the Antichrist following the Rapture). These sound like the same sort of decidedly mixed-bag offerings we’ve come to expect from Cage, but in the meantime, Joe might remind us why Cage has that Oscar in the first place.
Joe will be released in theaters on April 11, 2014