Reviewed by Adam Donato
Nic Cage is a genre all to himself. His newest film is directed by Sion Sono, who is most known for the four-hour love triangle called Love Exposure. Their new film is about a thief who is tasked with rescuing a young woman for his freedom. The young woman is played by the mid-2010s phenom, Sofia Boutella. After debuting at Sundance 2021, does Prisoners of the Ghostland live up to the Nic Cage standard enough to find relevance?
This movie is the quintessential Nicolas Cage picture. He plays a badass who is either silent or yelling. There is little in between. This Japanese western is your typical story about a renegade who covers up his heart of gold with his badass facade. Cage plays this character perfectly. He’s insanely hilarious when you want him to be and the rest of the time he’s obnoxiously cool. It might as well be Mad Max on crack, which is funny because Mad Max is already insane.
The supporting cast is headlined by Boutella, but Bill Moseley steals the show. He plays The Governor, who has a thick accent and is dressed up in an all-white suit with the matching hat. This character is the villain and watching him be extra is especially great because his scenes with Cage are always the ones where Cage is soft-spoken so the two characters contrast really well. Boutella is there and does fine. It’s funny watching her now remembering how big she was not too long ago and wondering what happened (The Mummy, the answer is The Mummy). It’s hard to identify any other standouts in the movie because everybody was equally insane, except for Narisa Suzuki, who was especially enjoyable to watch.
One of the crowning achievements of the movie is how visually pleasing it is. There are some sets that definitely stand out and add to the world itself. There’s a giant clock in Ghostland that requires a bunch of men to hold back its giant hands. This is done because if the clock continues to tick then it will explode. The opening shows Cage and his accomplice robbing a bank. The bank is pristinely white and the colors within are very vibrant. This set piece contrasts very well with the rest of the dystopian world the characters trudge through the rest of the movie.
Fans of Nicolas Cage watch his movies to be entertained and Prisoners of the Ghostland definitely does the trick. While the story is not art, the movie more than makes up for it with its insanity. What a fantastic year for Cage. Would definitely recommend doing a double feature with this and Willy’s Wonderland. If you can catch a theatrical release, the audience reaction alone would be worth the price of admission. Look at the poster and you’ll get exactly what you pay for.
Prisoners of the Ghostland hits theaters and VOD on September 17.