Pig ★★★½

Finally, somebody sticks it to those snooty classical music DJs.

Pig has a similar inciting incident to any other Aging Agent of Vengeance movie. Criminals administer a beatdown and a loved one - in this case a prize truffle pig - gets kidnapped. Nick Cage takes his particular set of skills (cooking) and enters the underworld of Portland high cuisine which resembles a hipster Food Network show as imagined by Craig Zahler.

I enjoyed the movies' upturning of man-on-a-mission tropes. John Wick, another ghostly figure of a professional order who had his quadruped companion ripped away, haunted organized hitmen with an arsenal of guns. Rob (Cage) owns his enemies thoroughly, but with means I dare not spoil. Wick leans on exposition to build its lore. Pig has its own kind of internal logic and code that Cage can sell mostly in silence (supported by a solid Alex Wolff as his reluctant companion).

This is a Nick Cage movie, which is beyond saying he stars in it. The movie exists because Nick Cage signed up to be in it. It's not a mark of quality that Cage shepherds a movie into existence, but it might be a sign of ambition. He gets flack for doing movies for the paychecks (for famously large debts, I'm told), but this hasn't led to a desk job at CBS or endless sequels (just the occasional one). He takes on projects that suit his own particular set of skills (eccentric performances). Acting as both its kindling and fire, Cage allows Pig to live but would seem to limit its effectiveness; even in blood-matted hair he's definitely Nick Cage and we're aware every moment that we're watching Nick Cage, potential maniac. But this awareness becomes an asset as confrontations escalate and we imagine that this humble pig owner could burn down a house or two if necessary.

We do have this movie on the horizon, which seems to signal some kind of breaking point where either the Cage phenomenon will find a new frontier to explore, or will collapse under its own weight and explode. A star going supernova.

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