I’d like to interrupt the string of enjoying streaming flicks we’ve been reviewing to bring you the stream’s latest Nicolas Cage film. Actually, Netflix recently made Lord of War available as well, and though it’s older, I’d highly recommend watching it in lieu of Outcast. Curious as to why, read on.
Gallain (Nicolas Cage) is a Crusader disillusioned with the Holy War he has been fighting. He repeatedly tries to convince his compatriot Jacob (Hayden Christensen) to leave the ranks and head east, away from all the bloodshed. Sometime later in the far east, a dying Chinese Emporer (Shi Liang) names his younger son Zhao (Bill Su Jiahang) as successor, leaving his elder son Shing (Andy On) as the army commander. Zhao, led by his older sister Lian (Yifei Liu) flee the palace and Shing’s wrath, but are soon found by the army. A weary and drugged Jacob stumbles into their plight and begrudgingly agrees to help them reach safety for he is traveling the same direction in search of the mentor who left him behind.
Stargazers, you can thank MILF co-founder Kai for requesting this week’s selection and ruining the highly-starred run we’ve been having in the Stream. That’s right, I had to leave my sweet spot and tread into dank waters to haul in this little cinematic catch. It’s a rather uninteresting haul, unless you count Cage’s hair which is done in a sort-of samurai topknot for the latter third of the film.
Actually, it isn’t as unbearable as the nearly straight-to-streaming Cage descriptor would have you believe. Outcast is the directorial debut from Nick Powell whose previous credits include work as second unit director and stunt coordinator. The combat sequences in Outcast are the best reason to watch, unless you’re doing research on Cage hairstyles of course. From the Crusades in the Middle East to Jacob’s redemptive protection of Lian and Zhao from Shing’s army, Outcast provides battles and skirmishes aplenty.
When the swords and bows are laid aside, Outcast backslides into over-trodden story paths. Gallain’s elusive search for solitude and peace and the bloodthirsty warrior who brings destruction to his door. The devious, powerful brother versus the inexperienced, humanitarian brother. Two strangers from different worlds… you get the point. There’s nothing new in the tale of the Outcast, save for Cage’s hairpiece, and no effort is made to freshen these weary warriors’ tales.
Which is why we’re left to focus on things like Cage’s impressively bad hair. Gallain takes the name ‘White Ghost’ in the Far East, no doubt referring to how his accent slips in and out like an unsettled spirit. While that’s distracting, the fact everyone speaks English is more bothersome. Sure, it saves from dealing with subtitles, but in this day and age one would expect some cultural boundaries to enter into the plotting.
The fight scenes spared Outcast from a solid single star rating, but nothing else, not even the un-‘Cage’d boisterousness of the one-eyed, top-knotted White Ghost, could lift it to mediocrity.