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Primal - Movie Review

Steven - AV January 31, 2020

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Primal is the 35th Nicolas Cage movie from the last decade alone, excluding voice roles. Quality control goes out the window once any actor hits a number that high, but Cage himself tends to be reliably committed. He elevates even the worst material with equally bizarre and enthralling performance choices like weird tics and unexpected line readings; he shouts, he pauses, he stutters, he giggles. Primal sounds especially promising in this regard, casting Cage as a big game hunter who has hired passage on a run-down barge to transport his catches. But he and the animals aren’t the only passengers—due to some convoluted medical issues, a violent political prisoner (Kevin Durand) is also aboard. When the prisoner, naturally, breaks free, he also releases the animals to cause havoc. Though the stubbly, cigar-chomping Cage is clearly channeling one of his idols, Humphrey Bogart, in The African Queen, the film finds distressingly little for him to do once the animals are loose. The direct-to-video budget can hardly accommodate much wrangling with the venomous snakes, face-ripping monkeys, and rare white jaguar, so it’s mostly up to Durand’s villain to carry the film through some iffy fight scenes. Even by the standards of Cage’s recent output (of which Mandy, Between Worlds, Grand Isle, Kill Chain, and even A Score to Settle are much better), this is a premise that works best as something you skim on the back of the DVD case rather than something you have to actually sit and watch for 90 minutes.

 Overall Rating: D

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