Mad Max on drugs
Blending Mad Max: The Road Warrior, William Blake, AC/DC, and Nicolas Cage having a bad LSD trip, Mandy is a unique experience.An unimaginable melting pot of themes and ideas, familiar characterisations in an unfamiliar style, Mandy is a tremendously moody, atmospheric and unforgettable movie which will likely leave you viscerally exhausted.
Unlike anything you'd have seen before, it blends seemingly incongruous styles to superb effect, not least thanks to an outstanding score from the late, great Jóhann Jóhannsson (Prisoners, Sicario, Arrival).
Shot through with an 80s exploitation vibe, right down to the lensing of the piece, this sophomore effort from newcomer director, Panos Cosmatos (son of director, George P. Cosmatos - Tombstone and First Blood: Part II), is a striking effort.
The kind of hallucinatory, nightmarish audiovisual experience that will leave you exhausted come the end of it.
The story follows Nicolas Cage's lumberjack, Red, living a peaceful existence with his Mandy (Andrea Riseborough), only to have her catch the eye of a strange cult, who enlist the help of an even more strange biker gang to obtain her, engendering the wrath of Red, who heads down a path that, for all intents and purposes, literally leads to hell.
Whether you view it as Mad Max redone by the creators of Garth Marenghi's Dark Place, or The Road Warrior by way of Thomas Blake, or just an 80s heavy metal band's album cover come to life during a bad trip, Mandy is utterly insane.
The use of vivid imagery, blown-out colours and overbearing primary tones, shooting through mist and haze to create some stunning shots, leave it a visually opulent wonder to behold. Setting this to an oppressive 80s soundtrack only further takes you down the rabbit hole on this dark, magical mystery voyage.
If you can possibly imagine a film where a dialled-up-to-11 Nicholas Cage is simply incapable of doing anything that is out of place, then this is it. Cage has endured a whole slew of bad movies, often bringing the same zealous commitment to each and every role, with few not having at least a brief glimmer of full-tilt Cage.
Here he goes above and beyond, getting his vendetta on like you would not believe, and reminding audiences of just what the man is capable of, delivering some hilarious laugh-out-loud moments of craziness which, somehow, are capped off with displays of such visceral intensity that you can't help but be further drawn in to his bloody rage.
To behold Mandy on the Big Screen is quite unlike anything else you're likely to see this year.
Riseborough is a marvellous object of intrigue, getting her own brief moments to shine and stand out, and Linus Roache (who many might recognise as being Thomas Wayne in Batman Begins) makes for a superbly outrageous cult leader, but it's Cage's movie through and through - at least as much as it is Cosmatos' and Jóhannsson's.
They each contribute to the character, style, mood, tone, look and atmosphere of the piece with an equally important outcome - crafting a dark but supremely engaging feature whose only real fault is a modicum of over-indulgence which could have easily been removed with a slightly more keen eye on the editing.
It's a minor complaint though, as to behold Mandy on the Big Screen is quite unlike anything else you're likely to see this year; the kind of hallucinatory, nightmarish audiovisual experience that will leave you exhausted come the end of it.
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