Well, the Nicolas Cage-aissance continues. Whether it’s Willy’s Wonderland, Pig, or now Prisoners of the Ghostland, Cage has made 2021 his year. His performance goes without saying in the Sion Sono directed neo-noir western film. The rest of the film might not be for everyone however. It’s a supremely strange film that is as wild as everyone can describe. The plot and characters are surreal and dreamy. The setting is gonzo and mashes together genre while still putting forth a movie that will capture your attention, even if at points it’s for weird reasons.
The film stars Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, Bill Moseley, Nick Cassavetes, and Tak Sakaguchi. Cage is a nameless criminal that goes by Hero. He’s sent on a suicide mission to rescue the governor’s (Moseley) adopted granddaughter (Boutella). She’s disappeared into a supernatural universe known as the Ghostland. Hero has to save her, and break the curse residing over the entire area.
That description makes the movie sound a bit drab. It’s a simple story for a complex and unique movie. For that, it works. The movie’s plot is part Escape From New York and part Samurai-action fest and another part Terry Gilliam. Does it set itself apart? Yes. This movie is not for everyone, but for those that love Cage and the unhinged performances he gives, this one is for you.
A Beautifully Dreamy Experience
This movie is a dream. A fever dream. A dream that almost verges on nightmare, but somehow rights the ship and comes back full circle. Sono and Cage are a match made in heaven. I’m surprised that they haven’t been put together sooner than this, but its Sono’s first film made for the West. This movie is Mad Max meets Japanese culture.
The whole reasoning behind Hero’s involvement in saving the Governor’s granddaughter is a robbery gone bad from his past. It ends with Cage donning a leather suit with bombs strapped to his arms, neck, and testicles. Spoiler alert, Cage loses a testicle in this movie. Boutella’s Bernice is a real highlight, it took a mighty performance to stand out against Cage’s unhinged glory here, but she pulled it off.
Moseley’s performance is also a high point with him drawling out Japanese in a Southern accent, playing the dastardly Governor. The rest of the cast is just as strange as the movie, but they pull off their roles with enough good performances to keep the film together.
Dragging In The Mid-Point, But Bringing It Home With An Explosive Ending
The film doesn’t go as balls to the wall in action as you would think from the trailer. It does take a bit of a dip in the middle section and might lose audiences there. It might just lose audiences that don’t understand or appreciate the style of the movie. After all, the trailer paints this as more like a balls to the wall action flick than a more auteuristic film. If you go into this with an open mind and an appreciation for Cage and his late-career renaissance, you’ll greatly benefit from it.
The movie continues Cage’s streak in 2021 of fantastic performances, but this isn’t one that’ll change the way you think about him. If you hate his performances, this one might make you hate them more. If you’re in love with what Cage has done, you’ll be right at home with Prisoners of the Ghostland.
This is a truly bizarre world that we reside in for the course of the film. It takes you on a journey through a place very different but also similar to the one we reside in. It’s told through the dreamy lens of auteur Sion Sono. It doesn’t always come out and wow you, but the whole film is worth your time to watch at least once. Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, and Bill Moseley combine to give wily, action-filled, and just simply fun performances.
Movies like Prisoners of the Ghostland don’t come around a lot, but when they do, you should take notice. It might not be your cup of tea, but it’ll certainly be someone else’s.
Prisoners of the Ghostland releases in theaters September 17th, 2021.
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