Earlier this year, stunt coordinators Chad Stahelski and David Leitch made their feature film directorial debut with the all-around amazing John Wick. Having some of the best in the stunt business behind the camera meant that even if the story had been crap, the film would still likely have had thrills galore. Luckily, the script wasn’t crap and John Wick was one of the best action films in years. The lesson to pull from that is that a good action and stunt coordinator, especially one with a lot of second-unit directing experience, should be well-equipped to step into the director’s chair — especially if they’re debuting with an action-heavy film. But they’ve got to have a script worth filming, too. Outcast is a film that has a good pedigree, but a weak script. It also had virtually no interest in the American market, which freed it up from many expectations and means that this review (and pretty much any other American review) would normally be like shouting in a wind tunnel. We were totally irrelevant to the makers of this film. We were not the audience. The Western Market was so off the makers’ radar that before the film even released, Variety reported that producer Jeremy Bolt already announced plans for a sequel. But then the unthinkable (not really, though) happened. Two hours before the Chinese premiere, Outcast was pulled from theaters, supposedly at the request of the film’s foreign investors and distributors. This is after the film had already secured placement in 26% of China’s cinemas with the release date one of China’s top box office seasons AFTER a 3D conversion just for the Chinese market. Despite this, the film brought in healthy totals in Malaysia and United Arab Emirates on a supposed $25 million investment. Unfortunately for the film’s backers, it looks like Outcast’s eventual Chinese release (it hit theaters this past weekend) is a disappointment, opening in ninth place and bringing in only $2.43 million. A quick look around the internet shows that the film has received horrible reviews across the board, and I can’t really dispute them. Outcast suffers from a number of problems, but none of them should be placed squarely on the shoulders of director Nick Powell. When the film stays in his wheelhouse (he was the stunt/action coordinator for films like The Bourne Identity, 28 Days Later…, and The Last Samurai), the film is extremely watchable. The action is visceral and violent, with attention paid to the different fighting styles of each individual character; and with action sequences range from Crusaders fighting in the Middle East to bar brawls to kung fu to Chinese sword play. There’s a lot to enjoy. Andy On is very good as the villain of the piece, Shing, and even Hayden Christensen does a good job with what he’s given as the tortured former knight trying to prove himself after giving in to and embracing the brutalities of war. Nicolas Cage, on the other hand, seems to think he’s in an entirely different film where cartoonish overacting is called for, rather than real emotional responses. And I’m not entirely sure what was supposed to be going on with his accent. James Dormer’s script is the real weakness of the film, though, as it struggles to find some sort of point; but as with Powell’s direction, he’s probably not really to blame. The film is set in a vaguely ahistorical 12th Century (hence, opening with the Crusades) with the opening sequence being set in “The Middle East” and the rest of the film in “The Far East” with no real attempt to establish settings or periods beyond that. There’s an attempt at political intrigue as the warmongering Shing attempts to lay claim to “the Imperial throne” after his young brother is named the new king or something. The boy and his sister flee and are taken under the wing of Christensen’s drunk and moody ex-Crusader. And then they meet up with the scenery-chewing Cage, who has become the “legendary” bandit The White Ghost, in order to set up the final showdown between Christensen and On for the fate of the “Kingdom.” Overall, Outcast is extremely clichéd, especially the forced romantic elements that border on parody, with a horrible performance by Cage, but at least it looks good, Christensen isn’t bad, and the action is well done. The Blu-ray extras provide a glimpse into the Chinese production, but there’s not really anything interesting to say, as even the filmmakers seem to be straining to find something to talk about. There are also a series of interviews with Cage, Christensen and Powell, but Powell’s is the only one of interest as he details the problems he had to deal with working with a crew that didn’t speak English and being forced to contend with constant rewrites and edits. Essentially what we have here is a film that had potential, but falls far short. I wouldn’t really recommend paying for this. If you’re paying for a rental service already, it’s not a horrible way to spend an afternoon, but don’t expect to walk away with any memory of what you watched. Outcast is entirely disposable. With any luck, Powell will soon get to do something that he has more control over. That will be something to watch. See larger image Outcast [Blu-ray] New From: $2.49 USD In Stock Outcast (2015) Blu-ray ReviewPaul's Rating2.5Overall ScoreReader Rating: (1 Vote)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.