The Nic Cage Jukebox 2: Windtalkers (2002 – John Woo)


Each week, one randomly selected film from Nicolas Cage’s career.  Hopefully we can begin to figure out exactly what he’s been up to all these years.


Dear John,

How are things?  I’ve seen the movie… and, well… it’s a bit self-conscious.  I know you won’t want to hear this, but here in the future, no one is even attempting a ‘hidden classic’ style piece on Windtalkers.  I tried.  I really tried, but I couldn’t do it, and I have managed to write several paragraphs on why Paycheck is actually quite good.  And that film stars the walking smirk of Ben Affleck.

One day we must sit down and work out where it all went wrong.  I mean, in the eighties, you’re the coolest director on the planet and a true iconoclast of action cinema.  You see the encroaching censorship heading to Hong Kong that will follow the repatriation of 1997, and flee, like so many have done before you, to America.  Where despite the many opportunities presented to you, you never quite seem to connect with the cinematic surroundings.  Your films are successful, but never stratospheric, and you begin working to the whims of others.  I find it hard to type this, but you end up making the fourth best Mission: Impossible movie, and honestly, I think I’m just being generous to you given my aversion of the cinematic non-entity of J. J. Abrams.

What’s worse is that you end up having to go and work in the same oppressive Chinese industry that you once sought to flee.

Oh well.  I was thinking, back during the Second World War (or The Great War II as I like to call it – don’t you think we’ve got less imaginative with our war naming recently?) many directors, including Johns Ford and Huston, went to work on the frontline.  What would happen if a similar conflict broke out now?  How would you fare if you, and your peers, were sent to fight for freedom, and justice and all those other concepts which don’t really seem to exist.  I think you’ve be alright, but honestly, I’m not sure many others would stand a chance.  Those guys seemed a little tough – they had eye-patches and cigars and shit – but nowadays, directors just seem to be white dudes in baseball caps.

For what it’s worth:

  • Peter Hyams – would talk the talk, but end up crying in a ditch somewhere. Same applies for Quentin Tarantino.
  • James Gray – would be the victim of some uttlerly deliberate friendly fire after he talked about the virtues of Amarcord once too often.
  • J. Abrams – would just try to copy a previous war, except this time recast the Nazis as Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • Joe Swanberg – would be useless, except if the world war turned out to be against film critics, in which case he would punch them out with ease.
  • David Fincher – would turn the gun on himself. But not before he told you what a shit you were and how it was all your fault.

I think I’d really only like to serve under James Cameron – that guy is an absolute loon!  That’s what you need in a war.

Anyway, I just don’t understand why you made Windtalkers so safe and why you didn’t allow a morally conflicted Nic Cage to fully let loose.  You just end up giving the impression that war is manageable, and I’m sure it’s not.

Write back soon,

Yours faithfully,


p.s. if I ask really nicely, will you direct a John Wick film for me…

Nicolas Cage Jukebox rankings:


  1. Lord of War
  2. Windtalkers

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