This is not the first time I’ve been burned this exact way before, but there’s an incredibly cruel lie in Nic Cage’s top billing in the period action cheapie Outcast. If anything, Cage’s role in the film is as a glorified cameo, mostly leaving Hayden Christensen & a cast of unknowns to their own lackluster devices. There’s some vague traces of entertainment value to be found in seeing a once-a-moody-teen Anakin Skywalker all grown up, high on opium, and getting pissed on, but by the time Nic Cage returns late in the film, ravenous for scenery to chew, it feels like a huge cheat. At one point a character admonishes Adult Anakin’s opium addiction by reminding him that the drug “dulls a man’s senses.” He responds that, “Some things are better dulled.” This is advice Outcast takes way too close to its exceedingly dull heart, over-stuffing the screen with long traveling sequences and underwhelming martial arts when all I really wanted as an audience was Nic Cage sporting a terrible wig & accent. Normally it’d be unfair to punish a movie for not being what you expected, but when you promise Nic Cage antics as your main attraction, you best deliver.
Here’s what we are afforded, Cage wise: early in the film he appears sword-fighting in knight’s armor; he then disappears for an entire hour, returning only for a few, sparse, bizarrely hilarious speeches that make you wish his character (“The White Ghost”) were the focus of the film, as promised. Seeing an armored Cage wield a sword definitely has a novelty to it, as I don’t think it’s something I’ve ever encountered before, but the moment is fleeting. When he returns to sweat & curse & act like a martial arts pirate it’s a godsend. He describes things as being “thick as flies on a farting goat’s ass”, tells crazy stories about his human prop wife, and makes direct references to his distractingly artificial hair. If we had a whole film of this stuff, it might’ve actually been worth the time & money. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.
Unlike actually-enjoyable films like Vampire’s Kiss & The Wicker Man, which are done a disservice by being reduced to memes, Outcast might be best viewed as a YouTube highlight reel. Endless traveling montages & a piss-soaked, opium addicted, too-adult Anakin Skywalker are all well & good in their own place & time, but it’s just unfair to deliver such trivialities when there’s a foul-mouthed pirate Nic Cage just begging for more screen time. Stylistically, the film doesn’t have much going for it either, recalling a decade-late Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon knockoff with enough superfluous Dutch angles to give Battlefield Earth a run for its money. That could be a forgivable offense, though, if they had just delivered what they promised.
Side note: The score’s main theme sounds hilariously similar to Taylor Dayne’s “Tell It to My Heart”. Either that or I was just desperately looking for ways to occupy my mind.