The Humanity Bureau Represents A Depressing New Low For Nicolas Cage

Cage’s upcoming dystopian action thriller looks virtually unwatchable.

Nicolas Cage in The Humanity Bureau.
Nicolas Cage in The Humanity Bureau. That moment where you realise you're starring in a complete turkey.

They say you should never judge a book by its cover but, in the case of Nicolas Cage movies, it’s recommended that you watch any and all trailers before committing to the finished film.

There was a time when Cage’s name carried a certain cachet – you knew that whatever the scenario, a Cage movie would deliver big, dumb fun by the truckload.

The pinnacle came with the late 90s “Holy Trinity” of The Rock, Con Air and Face/Off – films Cage made back-to-back over the course of a breathless 18-month period. 

Each threw Cage into a high-concept action movie scenario. He broke into Alcatraz with James Bond, fought fellow cons and John Malkovich aboard a prison super-plane and even swapped faces (and possibly dicks) with John Travolta. It was all completely ludicrous but it was also brilliant.

There were other, less appreciated, gems later though; Gone In 60 Seconds, Matchstick Men, National Treasure and Lord of War all spring to mind. Cage fans watch those films now with a new sense of appreciation, knowing the crap that was to come. It’s akin to watching Die Hard 4, having just watched Die Hard 5.

John Cusack, Nicolas Cage and John Malkovich.
Cusack, Cage and Malkovich The three musketeers of Con Air Image Buena Vista Pictures

Even after the miss-step that was the ill-advised 2006 remake of The Wicker Man, Cage still managed to make Next, Bangkok Dangerous, Season of The Witch and Drive Angry along with another National Treasure movie. They weren’t gunning for any awards, sure, and Cage’s hairline was all over the place but they were enjoyable enough.

He even earned critical praise for movies like Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans and the criminally underrated Joe, which ended up being overshadowed by Matthew McConaughey’s all-too-similar Mud. 

A still from Face/Off
Face/Off An absolute classic

But something has gone seriously wrong for Cage in the last few years. He’s starred in a string of direct to download movies that not only stink to high heaven but seemingly veer into one of two distinct categories.

Either Cage can be found going through the motions as part of another sub-par action movie sporting the kind of confused expression you might associate with a dad in entrance of a supermarket trying to remember the one item they forgot to buy, or he’s gone too far the other way with an extreme/method “Cage” performance that makes even his hammiest previous efforts seem practically vegan by comparison.

Take this example of Cage losing his shit in The Trust, a crappy corrupt cop move he made alongside Elijah Wood that was watched by precisely no one ever. It’s like watching Cage doing an exaggerated impression of himself:

The biggest problem is that Cage appears to be stuck in a loop of making dirt-cheap movies based on dog dirt scripts. Outcast, Dying of the Light, Pay the Ghost, The Trust, USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage, Dog Eat Dog, Army of One and Arsenal all fall into one of the two categories and are in danger of doing irreparable damage to a once great career. Cage won an Oscar for Pete’s sake!

It’s why you should always watch the trailer for any upcoming Cage movie rather than committing to the main course. It’s also why, at this rate, Cage will probably need to star in five back-to-back Quentin Tarantino films before anyone says he is “back” in the big time.

Nicolas Cage as Gary Faulkner in Army of One
Nicolas Cage as Gary Faulkner In Army of One

Unfortunately, the trailer for his next effort, The Humanity Bureau, may just end up being the final nail in the coffin of ‘Nicolas Cage: A-list’ actor.

A low budget dystopian thriller, The Humanity Bureau is set in the year 2030, and presents us with a version of the world in the grip of serious economic recession and even graver environmental issues – all thanks to global warming. Yeah, take that Donald.

To deal with the situation, the government has set up something called the Humanity Bureau, tasked with assessing people to determine whether they are productive members of society. Those deemed unworthy are banished into a barren wasteland made up of seedy-looking motels and desert.

 

Cage plays caseworker Noah Kross, who is tasked with assessing a mother and child. But what starts as an ordinary chase, soon turns into a game of cat and mouse with Cage and the family on the run and keep to find out the truth behind the bureau. Think Minority Report meets Logan’s Run meets the cheapest looking movie you’ve ever seen in your life.

The tired-sounding premise is further undone by by some terrible effects and a lot of very dull looking desert-based filming locations, if the trailer is anything to go by. It’s a trailer so bad, almost all the videos of it uploaded to YouTube were briefly removed for a couple of days after initially being uploaded. Possibly because of how crap it looked. But the damage is done now.

Seriously, The Humanity Bureau looks like it was made on a budget of $10, with Cage getting $9 of that – in one scene, he pretends to drive down a dirt track, rocking back and forth inside a car that’s clearly completely still and being shot against a green screen background. Check it out below:

 

 

Did you see that? What the hell was that? Is this 2017 or 1987?

Throw in some comment on global warming and you have the modern day equivalent of Waterworld, as if made by a bunch of students.

The bad guy even looks like a crap, futuristic rip-off of Dennis Hopper’s Deacon and appears to be using the lens from a pair of sunglasses as some sort of crap, techno eye patch. Jesus, even explaining this crap is embarrassing. 

A still from the film The Humanity Bureau.
Humanity Bureau's big bad guy... Yeah, that's just a dude with a lens from a pair of sunglasses stuck over his eye.

The Humanity Bureau represents an unbelievable new low for Cage. But it will arrive on video on demand, a few people will watch it, and Cage will move on to the next one of these turkeys.

There is at least one positive though: it can’t get any worse than this. Right? Right?

Somewhere, Cage is reading this and whispering the words “challenge accepted” isn’t he?

The Humanity Bureau will arrive in 2018.

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Loaded staff writer Jack Beresford has produced content for Lad Bible, Axonn Media and a variety of online sports and news media outlets.