A routine hostage thriller is elevated somewhat thanks to a goofy, crazed performance by Nicolas Cage—a performance he modulates just enough to make the film work.
Cage plays a character simply named The Passenger, while Joel Kinnaman plays The Driver. The Driver is arriving at the hospital to meet up with his wife, who is giving birth—when The Passenger jumps into his parked car and tells him to drive.
They’re in Las Vegas; The Passenger wants to go to Boulder City—and that’s all we really know. What follows is the usual stuff you’ll see in a car/hostage drama. Cops and diner employees unwittingly get in the way; the two dudes exchange a lot of of cryptic info in the car.
It all leads up to an OK twist that keeps the film from being completely routine. Cage keeps the movie moving forward with his trademark wild-eyed rambling, but he also manages to give The Passenger a few traits that make him feel like a new character rather than just Crazy Cage.
He’s also got purple hair. Or is it pink? Or a kind of maroon? I dunno … the movie takes place at night, so I never really could peg it.
Kinnaman is pretty good as he plays things straight to balance out the kooky Cage. He and Cage give each of their roles a little heart by the time credits roll.
Sympathy for the Devil is not a great movie, but it’s safely in that genre of “OK” Cage films. It’s much better than the dreck stuff he turns out far too often, but not as good as stuff like Pig or Mandy. When Cage is hitting the right crazed notes, he’s fun to watch, and he can make otherwise mediocre movies a good time.
Sympathy for the Devil is now streaming on various platforms.