The insane true story of Gary Faulkner, a handyman who claimed that
God had given him a mission to find and capture Osama bin Laden.
Army of One (2016)
Directed by Larry Charles
Written by Rajiv Joseph and Scott Rothman
Starring Nicolas Cage, Wendi McLendon-Covey,
Russell Brand, Will Sasso, Paul Scheer, Chenoa Morrison,
Denis O'Hare, Rainn Wilson, Amer Chadha-Patel
In 2010, Colorado handyman Gary Faulkner was arrested in Pakistan and deported back to the United States. His reason for being in such hostile territory? He was on a mission from God to find terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, capture him, and bring him back to face American justice. Believe it or not, this story is 100% true. Faulkner, a man with no prior military or tracking experience, went to Pakistan armed with nothing more than a samurai sword. Amazingly, he wasn't killed. Instead, he became an overnight sensation and even got his own movie deal. Army of One dramatizes his story and serves as the vehicle for one of Nicolas Cage's best performances in recent years. Granted, Cage playing a wacko on a mission from God isn't much of a stretch, but something about this film just makes it work. It's not a dud. It's a happy surprise.
Nicolas Cage plays Gary Faulkner as a meek, highly irritating, iron-willed patriot who suffers severe hallucinations due to his dialysis. One such hallucination is the constant presence of God, played hilariously by Russell Brand, who tells him that Osama bin Laden must be punished for 9/11 and only Gary can bring him to justice. What follows is one man's determination to be an American hero, despite a serious lack of skill. What makes the film work is its sincerity. It doesn't treat Faulkner like a lunatic. Cage plays him like a decent man just trying to do the right thing. Even when he gets to Pakistan, it's not a dark and dangerous place. He makes friends there and enjoys himself. Hell, this film did more to convince me of the Middle East's humanity than any news report I've ever seen.
I expected this film to be another paycheck job that Nic Cage used to buy another island, but he clearly cared about his performance. Army of One plays with Faulkner's story a bit, like having him battle Osama in a swordfight to the death during a deep hallucination, but in the end, it keeps his the focus of the story on his humanity. He had a woman he loved, he had friends, and he had a strong connection to his country and his faith. I'd go so far as to say I wish there were more Americans as open-minded and accepting as Gary Faulkner. We might just get a lot of interesting stories out of it.