Primal, starring Nicolas Cage, is a dull movie with a dull title and a dull performance from a man who is capable of so, so much better.
Cage stars as Frank Walsh, a hunter who is heading back home with a veritable menagerie of animals he’s caught, including a rare white Jaguar. Unfortunately for him, his ship is also home to a bunch of US Marshalls transporting back a man by the name of Loffler, who is just a happy little government sponsored psychopath. I’m sure nothing bad will happen when you mix up a confined space, a variety of deadly animals and a trained killer. I’m sure it’ll be juuuuuuuuuuuust fine.
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But that would be a terribly dull film, duller even than the one we got, so he escapes, sets the animals loose and the film becomes a less interesting Snakes on a Plane.
Kevin Durand (Robin Hood, I am Number Four) looks like he’s having fun as the uncomfortably cheerful Loffler who really does take a great deal of fun in the murder and maiming of everyone around him. Contrast this to Cage’s performance, which is dour, restrained and difficult to enjoy. It also features a sudden third act switcharound which is painfully jarring. He’s an asshole, but not a likeable, interesting asshole like Dr House, he’s just a boring, regular, irritating asshole with no real reason to like, engage or root for.
In fact, really everyone in this film is kind of an asshole and anyone who isn’t dies really quickly because apparently this entire trip has been arranged by Asshole Cruise Lines (their slogan – Do you hate people? Then jump aboard!).
This is one of those movies that sits squarely in the “meh” category. It’s not egregiously bad, but it’s far from good. Everything about it is just kind of forgettable. In fact there were really only a handful of things worthy of singling out for comment. They will be provided in handy bulletpoint form:
1. Nicolas Cage’s Frank is a TERRIBLE hunter. When we first meet him, he’s standing up in a tree, his gun not loaded, smoking a cigar that any animal could smell for yards around.
2. Whoever designed that CGI jaguar – have they ever seen an actual jaguar? It’s almost laughably bad.
3. Frank being a hunter (terrible or otherwise) has virtually nothing to do with the plot itself, only really featuring as a thing at the start and the end.
This stinks of a job being done solely for the paycheque. There’s no real passion here, nothing to make this movie stand out from all the other movies of the same genre or same name. In fact, if you want to watch a movie called Primal I can highly recommend the 2010 Australian horror of the same name. It’s a damn good time. As for this one? Skip it.