Review by Adam Donato
Nicolas Cage has been one of the most prolific characters in the film industry for some time now. His role in The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent pokes fun at the fact that he works in an array of different types of movies and not all of them are blockbusters. The Old Way is a Western about a retired rough rider who just wants to take care of his family and tend to his store. When a gang of outlaws kills Cage’s wife for revenge, Cage has to juggle his daughter and his mission to hunt down those responsible. The film is directed by Brett Donowho, who most notably directed Acts of Violence, another straight-to-DVD type movie starring Bruce Willis. Is the Cage personality enough to make this little film stand out?
Cage’s character in The Old Way is a grumpy old man past his prime. There’s several moments when his sense of humor shows out, but this is certainly not one of his more notable roles as of late. The young girl who plays his daughter, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, holds her own in a role not dissimilar to Hailee Steinfeld in the True Grit remake. Her arc in the movie is the most compelling and their relationship drives the majority of the movie. The villain played by Noah Le Gros gets ample opportunities to flex his acting skills and does a solid job creating a realistic antagonist with personal motives behind him. Shoutout to popular character actor, Clint Howard, who played one of the goons.
The Old Way is Cage’s first traditional western film and it holds true to the tenets of the genre. The sets are a lot of fun despite the clear low budget. It’s not an entirely dark movie as the foundation of the movie is the connection formed between Cage and Armstrong as the two were never previously close, but we’re forced to come together in a time of mutual crisis. Besides True Grit, this story draws comparisons to Logan and The Marksman. A grizzled vet has to defeat the bad guys while also juggling a cute sidekick. Despite its lack of creativity, this story checks all the boxes.
Cage fans may take the competent screenplay to compensate for a toned down Cage. This is a very solid and enjoyable experience of a movie. It’s nothing game changing, but if it’s on cable and there’s nothing to do, this will get the job done. Long live the great career of Nicolas Cage, who is far from delighting audiences in 2023.
The Old Way opens in theaters on January 6 and VOD on January 13.