Generally speaking, a bad movie is either A) boring, or B) silly. It’s tough for a film to pull off both at the same time, mainly because silly stuff is rarely boring, but that’s sort of what makes Outcast so interesting. It’s not only dull and dry for long stretches, and then it’s suddenly, outrageously goofy at several random moments. Unfortunately it’s also very familiar and frequently, plain ol’ inept. Clearly we’re dealing with a bad movie of very eclectic proportions.
We open during The Crusades of the 15th century, which is logically where we’d find guys like Hayden Christensen and Nicolas Cage jamming their swords through all sorts of snarling heathens. But after the battles have ended, Gallain (Cage) and Jacob (Christensen) simply vanish for a good twenty minutes so we can head east and focus on another tale entirely. Long story short: the adolescent heir to the throne of China has been betrayed by his evil brother, so he and his sister hightail it into the wilderness, only to meet up with the now-opium-addicted Jacob, who (of course) defends the young royals, kills a whole bunch of soldiers, and reluctantly leads them on a long hike to freedom.
The first hour of Outcast wavers between consistently dull (basically anytime anyone speaks) and visually distressing (the action scenes are poorly constructed and stitched together even more egregiously), but just when you think the film is unsalvageable Nicolas Cage shows up again in Act III and (thank god) saves us all from the endless tedium involving Jacob’s haunted past, his disdain for the world, and his crush on the princess. It’s almost like a reward for those who struggled to make it through all those non-sensical action scenes and drop-dead pedantic character beats: NOW you can enjoy Nicolas Cage, emoting like Blackbeard, squinting like Popeye, and spouting dialogue like, “I’m a simple an easily bedazzled by swift-talking young princes!” (Actual quote.)
THIS is why we drop $4.00 to rent a Nicolas Cage movie on VOD. It’s as if he finished watching the first two acts of Outcast and thought, “Hoo boy, I think this flick needs me to dial it up to eleven!” And so he did. See photo above.
As a dramatic piece, Outcast is never very compelling or convincing. As an action film, it’s frustrating because lots of nice cinematography is more or less ruined by long and unexciting action sequences that are shot from way too close, and are cut together so confusingly, that they barely manage to offer a respite from the “talky stuff.” First-time director (longtime stunt coordinator) Nick Powell realizes that a flick like this should have a lot of action, so (to his credit) he does give us a bunch of it, but unfortunately it’s difficult to decipher all that much outside of random arrows, punches, and collisions.
The whole thing is a big mess, but sometimes it is an amusing mess — and doubly so once Cage shows up. Bless his heart.
2 out of 5 disgraced warrior burritos