This film is very far out there, but with a worthwhile conclusion. “Mandy,” for all intents and purposes, is nothing more than a vengeance story about the loss of a past love.
Andrea Riseborough’s title character is in love with Nicolas Cage’s Red Miller, who works his day job and meets up with her at the end of her shift. Mandy works at a job where she spends time reading a bizarre fantasy allegory that represents her own life.
The setting is 1983. Viewers learn this through Miller’s mentioning Erik Estrada from the television series “CHiPs,” which was popular in that era. That is one of the reasons Cage chose this script. His character also mentions the comic book character Galactus, an evil entity that consumes entire planets.
Cage has weird mannerisms that accompany some of his work. Like his Oscar-winning role in “Leaving Las Vegas,” his character succumbs to alcoholism after he mourns the death of Mandy.
Cage shares some great scenes with Bill Duke (“Commando,” “Predator”). Duke’s character Caruthers has some of Miller’s weapons in storage. Caruthers understands the circumstances and wishes Miller the best, since he feels that he will not see him alive again.
The film score is immersive and rattles the theater speakers as events unfold on screen that send viewers to another time and place.
The villains in “Mandy” are reminiscent of the cenobites, the evil villains from Clive Barker’s “Hellraiser” entries. In “Mandy,” however, they are just run-of-the mill human beings who can perish via stabbings, swordplay, chainsaws and anything else that a person can do to eliminate someone from the planet.
Linus Roache is creepy as all get out as cult leader Jeremiah Sand. He’s insulted when Mandy hears the awful music he poured into his soul and responds by laughing. The juxtaposition of his nonsensical ranting and her laughter is intriguing. Give director Panos Cosmatos credit for this. He wants the viewer to understand the character’s fake philosophy. Cosmatos’ father, George P., helmed some big flicks in the 1980s with “Cobra” and the mammoth hit “Rambo: First Blood Part II.”
“Mandy” marks the sophomore directing effort by Cosmatos, whose other credits include second unit work on his father’s film “Tombstone,” the Wyatt Earp story with Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer, and for helming “Beyond the Black Rainbow,” an avant-garde mystery-thriller of 2010.
Like director Jonathan Grazer’s little seen “Under the Skin” (2013) with Scarlett Johansson, “Mandy” delivers for those who like quirky movies with an offbeat style. It is fun to see Cage chew up the scenery and get a few chuckles as well.