Actors: Nicolas Cage, Hayden Christensen
Directors: Nick Powell
Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Phase 4 Films
Release Date: March 31, 2015
Run Time: 98 minutes
Nicolas Cage has always lived on the border between passable performer and over-acting hack, often making it impossible to believe that he is the same person that starred in Leaving Las Vegas. Many of these performances were just lackluster enough to be unintentionally entertaining, and his ridiculous spending habits that led to massive debt have resulted in an increasingly atrocious series of choices these last few years. Unfortunately, Outcast is just bad enough to be forgettable without reaching the level of awfulness to make it laughably atrocious, and the biggest mistake may be the entire middle section of the film which is missing Cage chewing scenery with a bad British accent. More awful may not have saved the film, but it would have made it a more memorable trainwreck to sit through, and more of Cage would have guaranteed that.
Even the most seasoned of directors have a difficult time retrieving a convincing performance from Cage (not that he has worked with any of them lately), so it should come as no surprise that first-time director Nicholas Powell struggles. The fact that Powell has over 100 screen credits for his stunt work also explains why the fight choreography is the only thoughtful aspect of his filmmaking. The dialogue and story constantly feels secondary to Powell’s vision, resulting in some adequate action sequences in which nothing is at stake because of how little we care for the characters.
In a disjointed prologue to the film’s primary narrative, we begin with two crusaders named Jacob (Hayden Christensen) and Gallain (Cage) struggling to retain their humanity throughout the endless killing of battle. Despite Gallain being the more sympathetic throughout this sequence of carnage, it is Jacob we must follow as the primary protagonist when the film jumps forward to
later. Bemoaning his years of killing, Jacob has become a useless drug addict
willing to trade his sword for a distraction. We are never given an explanation
for his being in China ,
not to mention the coincidence that Gallain happens to be in the area as well. China
In a predictable and contrived narrative twist, Jacob is given the opportunity to redeem his past when coincidentally crossing paths with the rightful heir of the Imperial throne being pursued by his corrupt older brother (Andy On). This means endless sequences of pursuit and battle, with a series of forgettable dialogue scenes in-between. The action is mostly bloodless, though well choreographed, and is the closest thing to a reason for watching this easily forgettable mini-epic. Although Christensen has not been onscreen since 2010, he actually manages to carry the lead role without too many troubles. Unfortunately, that does not mean he is engaging or enjoyable enough to make the film anything better than your run-of-the-mill straight-to-home-video release. I found myself longing for Cage to return onscreen, because bad acting can occasionally be surprisingly more enjoyable than a bland performance.
The Blu-ray release for this forgettable film includes a generic making-of featurette, interviews with the cast and crew mildly promoting this average piece of entertainment, and a theatrical trailer.
Entertainment Value: 4/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 3.5/10
Historical Significance: 2/10
Special Features: 4.5/10