Nicolas Cage has made some seriously awful movies, like Fire Birds, Bangkok Dangerous or Knowing. Despite the quality of his films though, Nicholas Cage has never been boring, until now. Season of the Witch is Nicolas Cage being boring. As a noble, god fearing Knight on a quest to save a village from an allegedly plague inducing witch, Nicolas Cage offers a stalwart hero so tediously heroic that nothing stands out about him.
Behman (Cage) and his loyal pal Felson (Ron Perlman, Hellboy) have been fighting on behalf of the church in the crusades for more than a decade when suddenly killing the innocent loses its taste. Abandoning their duty, the two set off for freedom but are waylaid at a village overcome by the plague. Found guilty of desertion Behman and Felson are offered a choice; death by hanging or a Knightly quest. Not hard to guess that choice.
The quest has the Knights, along with a priest, a con man, a teenager and a widower, transporting ‘The Girl’ (Claire Foy), who is suspected of being a Witch, to a monastery where she is to be executed. Behman however, pledges that ‘The Girl’ will not be harmed unless she actually is a Witch, something that the priest, the Widower and the Con Man, simply cannot abide. In short order they will try to kill the Witch and face a dastardly fate. But, is it Witchcraft or worse?
The idea of Nicolas Cage, underneath yet another one of his famously odd hairdos, playing a 13th century Knight battling a Witch and a corrupt Church would seem to have potential for some classic Nicolas Cage weirdness yet somehow it never comes. Sure, Cage and Ron Perlman‘s casting alone, along with which Dominic Sena‘s ludicrous modern action beats against a 13th Century background, are odd in their own right but Cage plays Behman with such stalwart, heroic intensity that he seems stunningly normal under the circumstances.
Cage plays Behman just as any other actor without Cage’s flair might have played him. Viggo Mortenson or Keanu Reeves could have played Behman and given just the same stolid yet gallant performance. Where is the weirdness? Where is that extra something behind the eye that makes Nicholas Cage unique? It’s shocking and disappointing to watch Nicolas Cage play a hero whose eyes aren’t bugged out and ready to leap from his fiery skull and instead are sleepily focused and determined.
If Season of the Witch wanted to be just another action movie the makers could have hired any other actor. They hired Nicolas Cage to bring the weird. It’s fair, in fact, to wonder if director Dominic Sena, who watched Cage bring the weird to his car junkie action flick Gone in Sixty Seconds, was also waiting for his star to emerge and thus ended up making a dull, straight arrow action movie when he had hoped he was making a Nicholas Cage movie.
Would weirdo Nicolas Cage make Season of the Witch a good movie? Likely not but, Nicolas Cage in a bad movie is at the very least always interesting. There is always so much to see when Nicolas Cage finds that odd beat he wants to play. In Peggy Sue Got Married Cage adopted a voice he compared to Gumby’s pal Pokey and nearly got himself fired because he wouldn’t drop the voice. In other films he channels Elvis Presley for reasons only he understands.
It’s weird and it can ruin a movie but it’s always intriguing as we search Cage’s face and manner for that little inflection, that idea that struck only him and reveals his fascination with a role. Sadly, in Season of the Witch that little flavor of Nicholas Cage, that revealing little tick or inflection, that idea that is solely his never emerges and instead we have a bored Nicolas Cage delivering a boring performance in a boring movie.
Nicolas Cage has made many bad movies but Season of the Witch is the rare bad Nicolas Cage movie that's also flat out boring.