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Review: Outcast

Outcast
02.06.2015
4 10

PLOT:A washed-up Crusader must help a young prince - the rightful heir to a kingdom's throne - flee from his evil older brother, who wants to claim what he feels is his birthright.

REVIEW: A movie starring Nicolas Cage and Hayden Christensen as 12th-century crusaders in Asia seems to have about as much promise as a particularly intense bout of electroshock treatment. The former, as we well know, went off the deep end long ago and is now slumming it in a string of morbidly unimpressive direct-to-VOD flicks; he's not even fun to poke fun at anymore. Meanwhile, Christensen will never shrug off the shroud of "Ani," the actor's horrendous turns in the STAR WARS prequels have left him with little legacy other than a place in the "where are they now?" file. These two together as fearsome warriors? What punishment is this?

Well, it's to my surprise (and perhaps disappointment) that OUTCAST is not an exceptional disaster. It's not good, mind you. It's a barely adequate time-killer; blandly directed, unimaginatively written and boringly acted... except Cage, who does bring the crazy a little bit, just like he did in the good old days. But, sadly, Cage is only a supporting character in the film, leaving Christensen to shoulder the load. And even he's not as dreadful as we might expect. No, OUTCAST won't go in the Annals of Bad Movies; it'll merely be forgotten.

The film does strike an amusing chord early on, where we're introduced to Cage and Christensen as sword-swinging warriors on a "holy" mission of cleansing during the Crusades. Christensen's Jacob has pretty much gone 'round the bend, blood-thirsty and unwavering, killing everything in his sight, while Cage's Gallain has had enough of the Church's hypocrisy and is content to lay down his weapon. The two have a falling out and go their separate ways (Gallain of course knew Jacob's father, so there's bigtime history there), Gallain to who-knows-where and Jacob to whatever opium den he can find. The two actors give off "what the hell am I doing here?" vibes and, like a masochist, I prepared myself for a hellish journey of my own.

A subplot emerges: as an emperor dies, he gives his throne to a gentle young prince (Bill Su Jiahang) instead of his eldest son, a power-mad brute (Andy So). In a development right out of GLADIATOR, the bad son kills dad and declares himself the ruler, while his younger brother runs off - with kindly sister Lian (Liu Yifei) - now an enemy of the kingdom. (It should be noted that the country is never specified; the film was shot in China.) The hunted siblings find themselves in a shady bar, searching for help, and come across a groggy and disgraced Jacob, who agrees to aid them after fending off some royal guards. He's in it for the gold, of course, but ultimately becomes their reinvigorated protector. Redemption unlocked.

All very run-of-the-mill, all very ho-hum. Christensen, utilizing an accent of indeterminate origin (British? Irish?), makes for a very uninteresting hero, though it must be said his performance is not completely awful (compliment!).Rather he's just insipid, the hero's journey written for him carries no weight because the actor is simply a commonplace screen presence and not a dynamic one. He can't build much chemistry with his Chinese co-stars and he isn't very convincing during the action scenes. He's not helped, admittedly, by director Nick Powell's rudimentary handling of the material, nor James Dormer's lazy script. (It's basically a western, structurally.) No one's bringing their A-game here.

Except for Cage. He shows up again around the 60-minute mark, as a drunken shell of his former self with a scarred eye and slurred growl. Ahh, this is the Cage we want to see: over-the-top, howling his every line in an accent no man has ever used before. It's a relief when Christensen and company have the good fortune to run into Cage, because the movie was at that point on the verge of falling asleep. Cage brings bluster and unintentional hilarity, sparking some life into the proceedings. His reemergence doesn't make the movie much better - the last act is just as undemanding as what came before it - but at least our eyes aren't glazing over anymore. This is the Cage we need, the one we deserve; sure it's just another paycheck job, but at least he's really singing for his supper now instead of phoning it in.

Source: JoBlo.com

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2:30AM on 02/07/2015
Looked terrible. Probably would have just been easier to say that this film was as bad as it looked instead of trying to defend even a small tidbit of it. Does it even matter if it's not the level of disaster we all thought it might be? A horrendously bad movie is still horrendously bad.
Looked terrible. Probably would have just been easier to say that this film was as bad as it looked instead of trying to defend even a small tidbit of it. Does it even matter if it's not the level of disaster we all thought it might be? A horrendously bad movie is still horrendously bad.
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1:09PM on 02/06/2015
Cage's career has gone down the tubes.
Cage's career has gone down the tubes.
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11:54AM on 02/06/2015
This flick has all the makings of a Classic Cage movie night. Grab your buddies and get ready to laugh and if you're lucky, you might just get a legendary Cage moment. Anytime he's wielding long hair and a sword, you have a good shot.
This flick has all the makings of a Classic Cage movie night. Grab your buddies and get ready to laugh and if you're lucky, you might just get a legendary Cage moment. Anytime he's wielding long hair and a sword, you have a good shot.
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11:51AM on 02/06/2015
Nicholas Cage, John Cusack, Bruce Willis, and Johnny Depp all need to star in one giant film with one another.
Nicholas Cage, John Cusack, Bruce Willis, and Johnny Depp all need to star in one giant film with one another.
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1:02PM on 02/06/2015
Don't forget Val Kilmer and for some odd reason 50 Cent is in the background too.
Don't forget Val Kilmer and for some odd reason 50 Cent is in the background too.
2:03PM on 02/06/2015
Ha. How could I forget those two.
Ha. How could I forget those two.
4:52PM on 02/06/2015
Expendables for has-beens.
Expendables for has-beens.
6:32AM on 02/07/2015
You gotta have Eddie Murphy in there too.
You gotta have Eddie Murphy in there too.
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