Primal is the latest straight-to-DVD/VOD Nicolas Cage vehicle, and it’s in the mid-tier of these films. Three of the 2019 ones have been dumped on UK shores in the past month, including Running with the Devil and Grand Isle, No doubt partly to cash in on the upcoming release of Color Out of Space, his best work since the magnificent Mandy.
The film does have a promising start, with the Cagester in the Brazilian jungle trying to find El Fantasma Gato (The Ghost Cat), smoking a big fat cigar and reading a magazine. The cat is terrible CGI, so bad it will make you crack up in hysterics. Very quickly after this (the film is only 89 minutes long) he ends on a boat, and at the same time a mercenary has been captured by the Feds and is being set back to the States… so what do you think happens? Assassin, wild animals, a boat and NICOLAS MOTHERFUCKING CAGE—but sadly, despite the promising set-up for some retro mid-’90s action-movie madness, it’s a bit of a slog, and the plot is so threadbare that it becomes a “nothing movie.”
Cage is the only reason to see this movie, but that former Bond girl and X-Men star Famke Janssen is also slumming it hard as a nondescript doctor who’s also on board. The baddie is some loser trying to do John Malkovich cosplay—what, Malkovich wasn’t busy? He has been known to do schlock, and then we would’ve had a Con Air reunion! The film is directed by Nick Powell, who is mainly known as a stunt coordinator. However, he did direct Cage before in another VOD classic, Outcast, with that “great” thespian Hayden Christensen. That was a film deemed so offensive over its white saviour narrative that it was banned in Hong Kong.
Overall, Primal doesn’t live up its promise, and Cage has done much better and crazier VOD films. Between Worlds is a particular favourite: in that, he literally has a sex scene while he is reading from “Memoirs” by Nicolas Cage. Nice premise, but hopefully Pig, the upcoming Oregon-set film where Cage plays a truffle-hunter in search of his beloved pig, lives up to the possibilities of Cage in the wild
As you may expect, the DVD is barebones, with no special features in any form.