“MANDY” is a Netflix movie that’s a treat for those who love hardcore unrestrained violence, but for the pious pacifist, you might want to go to confession after watching it. Set in the idyllic Shadow Mountains in the Mojave in 1983, Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) and his girlfriend Mandy (Andrea Riseborough) live in a peaceful cabin by the lake. Red is a lumberjack while Andrea is a painter who does fantasy art.
Their tranquil and reclusive life is violently disrupted when they are abducted by a hippie cult led by Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache). Helping the cultists are the Black Skulls, a satanic biker gang whose members look 7 foot tall and regularly get high on drugs.
Sand tries to seduce Mandy but she makes fun of him. Feeling insulted, he takes revenge on Red who’s all tied up with barbed wire and stabs him, then burns Mandy right in front of him. Red later manages to free himself and it’s now time for him to take revenge. He searches for the Children of the New Dawn and the Black Skulls and brutally kills them one by one.
The story is really paper thin and we’ve seen it all before in other revenge movies with an avenging hero. But Director Panos Cosmatos chooses to treat it as an artsy-fartsy film with other worldly cinematography, combining brutal torture porn with a simple story of vengeance.
Cage gets to use various weapons to kill the evildoers, including the now familiar chain saw. But in a climactic scene, he just uses his bare hands in crushing the skull of the cult’s leader, until the head cracked and the eyes bulged and popped out.
Cage is a very good actor. He first shone in “Moonstruck” as Cher’s romantic leading man, won the Oscar for “Leaving Las Vegas” in 1995, did hit action pictures, then his star waned and has since been doing potboilers just for the money. You can be sure, though, that he still delivers a fine performance no matter how bad the movie is and he is just chewing the scenery.
In one scene here, the chest wound of a bad guy becomes a fountain and all the blood is splashed on Cage’s face and he goes on laughing and laughing in front of the camera. But Director Panos Cosmatos’ style in treating his movie is to make it a phantasmagoric hallucination with red and purple tints, since the bikers and cult members seem to be influenced by a kind of LSD that is more intense than any known drug.
So most scenes seem to be clouded all the time. He obviously is striving to achieve a particular artistic effect, like he wants to put you in a trance and a drug-induced feel, but it didn’t work for us. We just found this feel-bad movie quite irritating.