Monday, 1 February 2016

Outcast

Out now on Blu ray and DVD is Outcast, the latest straight-to-DVD offering starring the living meme known as Nicolas Cage. Only this time he's been relegated to supporting duties, with Anakin Skywalker himself (Hayden Christensen) in the starring role. With a two time Razzie winner leading proceedings, and the man who makes crap films like Ghost Rider, Next, and The Wicker Man watchable not even showing up properly until two thirds in, you'd be right to be worried.  


The film opens oddly similarly to the recent Cage epic, Season of The Witch, and like that it starts with our two heroes on the side of the Templars in some crusade, deciding whether or not they're batting for the wrong team. Shit happens, we go ahead 3 years, and Christensen's Jacob, now an opium addicted drunk, is tasked with helping the royal hier to some nondescript far east throne outrun his vengeful brother and take up his rightful place, leading the country. The supposedly Asian cast that fill out the ranks in this film are one of the weakest elements in film, and everyone except the evil prince is a bit dull. At least he seems like he's having fun; chewing the scenery and being involved in one of the better fight scenes. And for it being set in the 'Far East' it certainly is strange how everyone talks in English, and usually with an English accent. Except Christensen and Cage that is. They go for what I think is an English accent but both of them butcher it so much they come out sounding like deaf South Africans. Perhaps this is a little harsh though as Christensen actually turns in an alright performance. He's no Brando, sure, but he gives it his best shot and is pretty good. And he manages to carry the first two thirds of the film when the only recognisable face, and decent actor, is him. 


On the other hand Cage remains Cage. He pops up in a couple of flash back moments before making his grand entrance at the hour mark along with a ridiculous squint and, for some unexplained reason, live snakes wrapped around is wrists. The snakes disappear almost as fast as they were introduced but that's only one facet of Cage's truely unique performance, a performance I'm sure that Cage reveled in. It's strange as even though Cage has limited screen time, his presence is felt throughout the film, like a wacky force ghost haunting a Jedi. He's always on the brain of us and Christensen's character, even when he's not in the film. But if you can forget about Cage, or ignore his increasingly wacky hair and make up choices, then the film does offer some fun scenes and interesting stuntwork outside of his performance.

It's good that Cage delivers yet another unique performance because the main draw of B-movies like these is often the action and in that regard Outcast sometimes falters. Director Nick Powell has a long history of stunt work in films such as The Bourne Identity and The Last Samurai, and this great pedigree is seen in a couple of fights. A great example of this is one towards the end of the film that sees Cage go up against a group of villains, single-handedly. Another great one is the final showdown between Hayden Christensen's character and the big villain. With their decent camera work and the best efforts by Cage and Christensen these scenes elevate the film above it's crappy straight-to-DVD trappings. Some of the other fight scenes don't fare as well, suffering from narrow direction and incomprehensible editing. The action away from this, such as a cool scene when Chistensen's character throws himself off of a roof, tends to be pretty good though.


To be honest if what you fancy watching is a dumb B-movie then you could do a hell of a lot worse than Outcast. The film is never boring and some of the action scenes are pretty awesome. Cage aficionados such as myself will get a lot out of it with Cage turning in one his most enjoyable performances in recent memory, despite not even being in it that much. The plot's crap and the majority of performances are dire, save for perhaps Hayden Christensen and the big villain, but the film manages to keep you entertained for its brisk run time of just over 90 minutes and for a film such as this, that's all you can ask.

Outcast gets 3/5.

★★★☆☆


Tom Bumby


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