Ryan, Cage finally make Hollywood angel story work

Angels-and-afterlife movies abound in Hollywood today, but City of Angels (Warner Brothers) offers a slightly different take, along with a powerful love story.

The basic plot is the typical guy meets girl, guy falls in love with girl and guy drops everything for girl. Seth (Nicolas Cage, Face Off) is a renegade angel on duty in Los Angeles, called to take the soul of a dying patient in a hospital. Meg Ryan (Addicted to Love) plays the patient’s young, hotshot heart surgeon, Dr. Maggie Rice.

Seth immediately falls in love with Maggie, though he realizes she can’t feel the same way because she can’t see him. Maggie falls into deep despair after losing the patient because she feels responsible for his death.

In a risky move for an angel, Seth makes himself visible to Maggie in order to spend time with her. Despite the fact that Seth is a total stranger and completely bizarre, Maggie finds herself drawn to him.

Oscar-winning Cage and Ryan develop a powerful chemistry that draws in the audience. Some of the dialogue between the two is so passionate even cynics find their hearts skipping beats by the film’s conclusion.

Extensive allusions to Ernest Hemingway’s simple, passion-loaded writing are woven into the film. As an angel, Seth has no understanding of senses and emotions. Hemingway helps him, and the audience, explore their emotions.

Dennis Franz (“N.Y.P.D. Blue”) plays Mr. Messenger, a fallen angel and patient of Maggie’s. As an angel, Messenger enjoyed immortality, and other perks of angel-hood. As a person, he enjoys the fruits of life. Franz proves he can play a character other than a cop, and does a superb job.

Fellow TV personality, Andre Braugher (“New York Undercover”) plays Cassiel, Seth’s best friend. He adds some clever lines and shows he, too, has potential to switch from New York City cop to solid, big-screen actor.

Director Brad Silberling (Casper) was blessed to have Cage and Ryan take on the film, as well as have the screenplay based on 1987’s critically-acclaimed film, Wing of Desire. Silberling inserts some intriguing camera angles and mixes up the tempo with perfect music.

The soundtrack, which includes some original music, features an all-star cast of artists. U2, Jimi Hendrix, Sarah MacLachlan and Alanis Morissette are just a few of the big names who provide music for the film.

City of Angels bucks the trend of boring angel movies, like Michael and The Preacher’s Wife, because of the compelling love story between Maggie and Seth.

Without the exceptional performances of Cage and Ryan, City of Angels might have been a dud. With them, City of Angels is a sure bet to provide a great Friday-night date packed with some inspiring lines and a multitude of tear-jerking, gut-wrenching scenes.City of Angels opens Friday.

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