The Prosecution: He's a Coppola coat-tail riding bad movie machine, and if he isn't going over the top then he's probably not breathing. A recent movie CV that includes such classics as Next, Bangkok Dangerous, two National Treasures and Ghost Rider. The goodwill he's earnt from a couple of good performances in the early 90's has well and truly worn out its welcome. Then there's the Hamming. Come on Y'all have seen it. The wide eyed, Joker mouthed nutjob face, the indiscrimanate yelling of lines. Youtube ' The Wicker Man' and see all you need to see.
Subtelty and Mr Cage certainly do not go hand in hand. Similarly he has awful taste in film. His rut hasn't just started in the last 5 years, there's all sorts of crap throughout his career and Cage seemingly his little to no interest in subtler roles where he doesn't get to steal the show. All in all, the worst kind of actor, all flash no substance.
The Defence: Erm, no. Cage may be on a bad run right now, but to say he is an actor without merit is to simply be an idiot. The guy has at least 5 truly great performances under his belt and has made films he wants to make rather then just chase Oscars like Sean Penn, Brad Pitt or George Clooney. An actor as comfortable in Con Air as he is in something like Leaving Las Vegas, he has shown a variety not present in many of the other 'movie stars' going today. And as for the argument that he is a spent force, one need only to look to excellent recent output like Lord of War or Adaptation. Fine he may have had a couple of bombs in a row, and yes he can go over the top every now and again. But considering the amount of people that let the same crime slide when its perpetrated by say, Al Pacino. Who has with one or two exception's done only eye-goggling mania since the early 90's. As for the family connection thing, ask Talia Shire if it guarantees you breeze to the top. That may have been his springboard, but Cage would have vanished long ago if he had nothing to offer, and his longevity as a leading man speaks volumes as to how good he really is. Just go watch Adaptation and Shush.