Monday, January 14, 2013

Versus #2: "Cage Fight!" Cameron Poe Vs. Castor Troy

I really intend to do this one more often, its just that other things have distracted me and gotten in the way. I guess I'm just lazy, and its easier to watch and review a movie than construct an elaborate scenario in which two fictional characters fight each other to the death. If you missed the first episode of this series, that's basically the jist of Versus; its the cinematic equivalent of those old comic book arguments about who would win in a fight between this or that superhero. The catch is, both characters taken from movies or television shows have to have been played by the same actor. This time, the focus is on one of my favorite actors currently working today, part time Coppola and possible immortal vampire, Nicolas Cage.

Occasional Bear suit not withstanding, I think Cage gets a bad rap most of the time, though I have to admit it is largely his own fault. Like Robin Williams, another actor I like in dramatic roles, Cage seems to love money as much as he loves making quality films, and takes on a lot of crap that you can clearly see he has no passion for outside of the paycheck. But, also like Robin Williams, when he does have passion for what he's doing, he almost always turns in a captivating performance. For my Nicolas Cage installment of Versus, I thought I'd go with two iconic roles from the 90's that made him a star to many in my generation, before his unique style became something of a punchline.

Cameron Poe (from Con Air)

Castor Troy (from Face/Off)

First step, establish the circumstances in which these two characters would meet. Two factors to always consider when imagining the set up are the Playing Field and the Timeline. Often these match-ups will involve characters from vastly different worlds that require one or both participants to travel through time, space, and or dimensions in order to meet the other. Thankfully, that is not the case here, as it can be reasonably argued that the two worlds these characters inhabit are similar enough that they can be considered the same world, one very much like our own, except more like a 90's action movie. Once the Playing Field is agreed upon, it needs to be noted at what time in each respective timeline this battle takes place, specifically prior to, during, or after the events of the films from which we know them. In this case, with an explanation for Troy's death at the end of his film, I'd set this fight after the events of both Con Air and Face/Off.

Okay, so here's the scenario: Shortly following the end of Face/Off, the deceased body of face stealing super terrorist Castor Troy is taken to a secret government facility for storage. Unfortunately, his corpse is inadvertently placed in proximity to those green orb things from The Rock, which unbeknownst to anyone in the government exude a radiation capable of raising the dead. Now an unholy, though still basically human revenant, Troy escapes the facility, retaining the knowledge of how to transplant the faces of others onto his own face, meaning he could feasibly look like anyone at any time. This security risk leads Dr. Stanley Goodspeed (also played by Nicolas Cage, reprising his role from The Rock), to recommend that they bring in the best man they've got to track him down and bring him in, former Marine and ex-con turned government sponsored fugitive hunter Cameron Poe. Poe must find and stop Troy before he can exploit the esoteric knowledge of his hostage Benjamin Gates (Nicolas Cage again, reprising his role from National Treasure) to sneak into the White House and steal the president's face!

Alright, next up, we look at each character's various strengths and weaknesses. First off, Cameron Poe (not to be confused with Edgar Allen, once played by John Cusack, who was also in Con Air with Cameron Poe). In addition to his marine training, the deadly utility of which is what got him sent to prison in the first place, I think Poe's greatest advantage is his innate knowledge of how criminals think. Poe not only spent years in prison with nothing to do but keep himself alive long enough to see his daughter for the first time, but he also pretty much singlehandedly took on an entire plane load of some of the worst criminals to ever be caught, and still managed to give his little girl that bunny rabbit. He's got the requisite experience, though if he has one major downside, it is his outsized impulse to protect the innocent, even to his own detriment. As we saw with his diabetic friend on the plane, he will go out of his way to save others even at the expense of his own safety, which could easily be exploited by an amoral enemy.

Castor Troy is a criminal mastermind of the highest caliber, and would easily constitute the greatest foe Poe's ever faced. Obviously, his biggest advantage would be his newly learned ability to swap faces without the need for a sophisticated surgical team, allowing him to hide in plain sight and sneak in for the kill. The only downside to this ability is that he would almost certainly be killing the people whose faces he is taking (one assumes he would not take the time to give them his old face), and if the body of his current face is ever found by the government agents hunting him, his ruse is at least temporary ruined. His major flaw would be his ego and the resulting hubris attached to it. Troy is a performance artist, always one to stay and gloat, going for the hurt instead of the kill and wasting time on theatrics allowing his opponent to catch him off guard. Also, one imagines that the constant switching of identities, always leaving him looking at a different reflection in the mirror, might make him even crazier than he already is as he grapples with a potentially very distracting identity crisis.

So who do I think would win? Ultimately, I think I'd have to give it to Poe. At first I thought, much like in the Doc Brown/Judge Doom fight, that Troy could use Poe's family against him, but then he had that same potential advantage in Face/Off, and was unable to exploit it effectively, so I have to think he'd fail here as well. The solution hinges I think on whether Poe is able to figure out where Troy is heading and what his plan is, and while Troy has no need to leave cryptic clues in the eyes of the 12 apostles at the last supper, he does have a hostage in tow who is an expert at the process of leaving behind bred crumbs for others to follow. I think with Benjamin Gates' clandestine help, Poe would figure out the destination with time to spare and be waiting for Troy to break into the oval office. I imagine the chair would be turned around dramatically to reveal Poe instead of the president, who would quickly dispatch the surprised and crazed Troy with a quick punch to the already somewhat sore face.

Think I'm dead wrong, or have an idea who should be pitted against each other in mortal combat next? Feel free to let me know in the comments below. See you next time everybody.

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