Starburst readers, because we value the not-inexhaustible time you have to commit to the culture that enhances your very existence, here’s a short review of Army of One so you can move on with your lives and not waste any more time contemplating, considering or otherwise pondering the merits of this film: good grief, this is shudderingly awful.
Based, loosely of course, on a true story it, follows Gary Faulkner, a sometime handy man and construction worker with kidney problems who went to Pakistan in 2004 to capture Osama bin Laden and return him to America for ‘justice’.
Gary is a good guy, and despite his eccentricities and on occasion being a fair bit of a tool his friends seem to like him, giving him places to stay and generally standing by him. Gary is also a patriot and believes America is the greatest country in the world. A flashback shows us how God would speak to Gary even when he was young, ensuring Gary knew he was singled out for greatness. When God, in the form of Russell Brand, appears to Gary during his dialysis treatment and asks him to go to Pakistan and capture Osama, Gary believes he has been given a holy labour. Despite his friends’ concerns, Gary buys a boat and sets off on the first try at his haphazard, ill-planned mission.
In the pantheon of Nic Cage films, even when you include The Wicker Man remake, this could go down as the very nadir, the through-the-bottom-of-the-barrel, the inverse pinnacle of bad Nic Cage-ry. His performance is one of such spectacularly misjudged ticks, affectations and irritations it dwarfs the excess of Vampire’s Kiss. It’s not just Cage’s shoulders that this calamitous misfire rests on.
The script is a smug, joyless subtlety vacuum, with Faulkner written as a complete joke devoid of any complexity. It gives the actors nothing to build any sense of depth with, and makes Gary's quest a tedious annoyance. Larry Charles is a director of experience but this is a flat, miserable facsimile of any number of 'quirky' film styles. Imagine if Uwe Boll decided to make a knockabout comedy. Lower your expectations still further. Then keep digging. And give it a grating soundtrack.
Then there’s Russell freaking Brand. If we were being generous we’d say he can only play himself whatever role he’s ‘performing’ in, but even that seems a stretch. His lazy, charmless showing as God in this film acts as a microcosm for the film itself: unfunny, self-regarding, witless and something any number of people should have said no to. There’s no ‘so bad it’s good’ here either, just an atonal, grinding abasement of cinema.
There might be people out there that enjoy this, but we hope we never meet them. Sadly, because the talent involved (and Brand too, of course) should know better, this is the nails-down-a-blackboard ‘winner’ of the lowest score possible. Good grief indeed.
ARMY OF ONE / CERT: 15 / STARRING: NICOLAS CAGE, RUSSELL BRAND, WENDI MCLENDON-COVEY, AMER CHADHA-PATEL, WILL SASSO / RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 6TH