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Why ‘Joe’ Is Nicolas Cage’s Most Underrated Performance of the 2010s

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Nicolas Cage Updates: Nicholas Cage’s 2013 film Joe does not get its due. Cage plays the titular character who must get back in touch with his dark past in order to save a troubled teenager in this crime drama.

Over the years, Nicholas Cage has given many terrific performances. His films range from classics like Leaving Las Vegas, Adaptation, or Wild at Heart, to wild films like Vampire’s Kiss or Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans.

He has often been associated with the latter kind. However, Cage has had a very noticeable decline in his quality of films. In the recent past, he has starred in some low-budget films which flopped in Box office, but at times have managed to give some memorable works like Kick-Ass, Mandy, and The Trust.

Cage’s 2013 film Joe is just another reminder of the actor’s range. Cage played the titular role in the film with heartbreaking authenticity, reminding the audience that his extreme method of acting can be adapted into his more subtle and serious roles. Joe might be the actor’s most underrated film.

Nicolas Cage: Underrated Performance Here’s Why

Directed by David Gordon Green, Joe is the story of Joe Ransom, a rough-hewn boss of a lumber crew in the wilderness of central Texas. Joe is struggling with anger and alcoholism and chooses to be a loner because he does not want to hurt anyone. He doesn’t want anyone to come close to him but ends up forming a connection with a teenager Gary (Tye Sheridan).

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Joe doesn’t immediately allow himself to drop his guard but lets the teenager in when the boy proves to be an expert at poisoning trees for the other crew members to hack down the tree. Eventually, Joe becomes a mentor to the boy. When Joe learns that Gary’s father Wade (Gary Poulter) is clearly abusive to his son, it hits very close to home. Cage explores the soul of the character searching wonderfully, as Joe weighs down his options to help the boy or stay away from their family matters in case it pushes him down the path of violence.

Joe gets closer to Gary as he trains him in woodwork. Moments of softness like when Gary helps Joe to search for his lost dog or when Joe gifts a lighter to Gary at the end of the search, give a very subtle touch of lightness in the otherwise dark film.

However, the film takes a turn when Wade’s checkered history puts the trio into a dangerous web of crime forcing Joe to face the ghosts of his past.

Cage is seen in this film as a hulking and intimidating figure. The method actor that he is, he went on an only red meat diet to prepare for the role. Both actors complement each other’s range of performances. Green’s poetic dialogues make the film magical. The locations have been stripped down to the bare minimum, giving off a sense of abandonment and isolation quite like the characters in the film.

Nicholas Cage has not been living up to his classic performances in the films of his recent years. Joe brings back Cage’s massive range. It is a reminder that Nicholas Cage is one of the most inventive actors of his time.