Cage Match is an ongoing look at Nicolas Cage’s output from the last decade or so. I’m watching, reviewing and ranking all those movies that barely played in theatres or went straight to DVD. What are these movies all about? Which one is the best? There can be only one true Cage movie of note. Join me and let’s find out together!
Our fifth contender in the Cage is Outcast, a 1hr 39min, 2014 action fantasy movie.
Estimated Budget: $25,000,000 , Gross Worldwide: $5,148,503
What’s Cage up to this time?
Cage plays The White Ghost, a mythic warrior/samurai during the Crusades. He is missing an eye, often wears a live snake as a bracelet and screams a lot. I know you’re now thinking that holy shit, you need to watch this right away. Just…bear with me a little bit longer first.
Who else is in the cage?
Only Darth Vader himself, Mr. Hayden Christensen! He is actually the lead character here – Jacob. Jacob is a great warrior with a troubled past who is roped back into action to help the younger brother of this asshole who killed the Emperor and blamed the kid so this asshole can become Emperor himself instead of the kid. Get all that? Christensen is an easy target but I’m on the record saying he is capable of, and has given, good performances (shameless shout-out to the Life as a House episode of our podcast). I was actually excited to see what he did here and he is definitely far more Star Wars prequels than Shattered Glass unfortunately.
The director is Nick Powell who we of course all remember from Primal, the Cage movie that kicked all of this off. Surely you didn’t forget about that cinematic classic right?
Is the movie worthy of Cage?
Outcast has the makings of a good movie. It tries to be epic, with large-scale battles and swords and landscapes and other nouns. There’s clearly some money behind this one. You have Nic Cage playing an absolutely, glorious weirdo. The pieces are there, but rather than try to make them all fit, the filmmakers decided instead to fuck off to bed and leave the pieces all over the floor and now the cat is chewing on them and they’re all messy and awful and there’s no fixing it all now!
This is going to sound mean, but I have zero idea why anyone thought that Outcast was a story that needed to be told. None of the Cage movies I’ve looked at are particularly original, but I can see why the people behind them were interested in making them. This? I don’t get it. The story is painfully generic. Brother who feels like he is owed the throne kills the Emperor and then blames another member of the family. I mean this shit is pretty much just The Lion King. Then fights happen. At least I think they happen?
There is, at least technically, a lot of action scenes in this movie. Lots of sword fights and big battles that could make for a fun, though still generic, viewing experience. The problem is they are shot and edited terribly. I hate, hate, HATE, shaky and quickly cut action in movies. You took all this time to stage and shoot these scenes, why then did you decide it would work better if the audience can’t understand what the fuck is happening?! It turns what could have at least been decent scenes and makes them infuriating to watch.
I already said that Christensen makes for a bland lead but, as with Star Wars, I don’t know what percentage of that is his fault and how much is the fault of the script. The dialogue is mundane and serious, with hardly a drop of humour to be found in the whole movie (at least until Cage shows up). The characters hardly even qualify as one-dimensional and the story beats are completely predictable.
So, to summarize, that’s bad characters, bad writing, a bland story and horrendous editing. What is there to grab on to? Cage. Solely Cage. After the first scene, he doesn’t return until almost exactly the one hour mark and it was like seeing Santa Claus, I was just so happy he was there. He provides an adrenaline shot directly to this movie’s barely beating heart. Alas, just when you thought things were looking up, he’s gone almost as quickly as he arrived. Then you’re right back to following the adventures of Captain Bland and the Bland Ass Blands.
How Cage-y is Cage?
Holy shit I mean you saw everything I wrote before right? This is clearly the version of Cage who showed up on set and said “Guess what? My character is missing an eye, wears snakes and talks in a shitty British accent. This is NOT up for debate!” You would think missing an eye means he wears an eye patch yes? WRONG! Cage just keeps one eye shut, made even better because he messes up occasionally and the eye is clearly visible. The accent is unbelievable and an actor of lesser status would almost definitely have been asked to knock that shit off. This is exactly what I am looking for out of my Cage performances.
You bought the blu-ray?! Are there bonus features at least?!
Yes! Quite a few actually. There’s lengthy interviews with the director, as well as Cage and Christensen.
The director is actually very candid about all the difficulties faced during filming. He does talk about wanting to make sure he shows the different styles of fighting, so it’s interesting that the end decision was to ensure we couldn’t tell the difference anyway. He’s also weirdly dismissive of kung-fu movies being popcorn fodder and his movie is…not? You made Outcast dude, maybe calm your shit.
The Nic Cage interview is a wee bit odd. He sounds like he’s fighting a cold and the questions are edited out so it’s not always clear what he’s answering. He also calls Christensen’s performance in the Star Wars prequels “edgy, dangerous, dark and still soulful” as well as “superb” which is the most positive statement that has ever been, and will ever be, made about that.
We also get a Christensen interview. He’s not battling an illness like Cage but he certainly doesn’t sound enthused. We hear classic tales like:
- The plot of the movie
- How Hayden almost had a beard for the movie but then didn’t
- How he saw some cool friends while filming in China
- He, like all of us, also likes Nicolas Cage
There’s also a short making of which is almost completely made up of reused material from the previous interviews. Hayden does mention how much action is in the movie and how incredible all of it is, which makes me wonder if he had seen the finished product at the time of this interview.
Should you get into this cage?
You absolutely should not.
Where does it rank?
When I reviewed Left Behind, I was so confident that it would have zero competition as the worst movie of this whole thing. I never imagined just how quickly it would be challenged for the bottom spot. The only reason it ranks above Left Behind is because it shows more actual effort. There’s fields and forests and shit, instead of spending most of the confined to one airplane. You got lucky Outcast!
As it stands:
Vengeance: A Love Story
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