Primal follows Frank Walsh (Nicholas Cage), an illegal poacher who hunts wild animals to sell them to the highest bidder. However, on his mission in Brazil, he finds a rare, all white jaguar, a very badly computer generated cat that promises a huge payday. However, while illegally moving the jaguar and the rest of his poached prizes onto a cargo ship, Frank runs into U.S. government agents and their crazed prisoner Richard Loffler (Kevin Durand). Early into the voyage, Loffler proves himself to be a threat to Frank and the other passengers, forcing them to deal with both him and a ship full of escaped wild animals.
Primal is an instant Nicholas Cage classic. Cage has become infamous for starring in bad movies, even achieving a level of fan admiration most actors don’t have. His face has been meme-d on clothing, odd scenes forever remembered, and his sometimes bizarre antics are beloved by millions. Primal is no exception and I was thrilled that this was the case. From the moment that Frank steps on the scene, I was hooked. Frank is an unlikable, irresponsible alcoholic, who freely admits he has no morals, and doesn’t really think of the consequences of his actions. His zingy one liners consist of drunkenly shouting, “What’s up Doc?” at a doctor, giving a government official the finger while saying, “classify this”, and “I know how faucets work you federal clown.” And they are all glorious. Nicholas Cage is a fantastic actor because (in spite of his propensity for scenery chewing) he can make people like Frank both charming and fun to watch.
However, despite Primal being a must watch for Nicholas Cage fans and those fond of bad films, the rest of the movie doesn’t match the brilliance of what I have just described. The plot is odd, to say the least, and after watching, I am still confused about what the hell I just saw. Frank’s story arc and character development are easy to follow, but Loffler’s purpose in the movie is just weird. He is a psycho bad guy that turns on the government after they train him, but he’s bad for no discernible reason…? At least Frank makes money, Loffler seems to kill for sport and has a weird complex about his military service, but his ‘going rogue’ mentality isn’t believable.
Despite this, Loffler is the best secondary character, as the rest of them have no personality and do not make any sense. Their only purpose is to die or to interact with Frank and it comes across as forced for the entire film. Some of them are supposed to be likable, but since they are not given enough character development it’s difficult to invest in them.
Nevertheless, what the people in this film lack, CGI animals make up for in hilarious scenes where you can literally see the fuzz around the borders of the animals that was inserted as an attempt to blend them in. I get that using real animals was probably more expensive, but the results are pretty laughable.
Overall, if you are a Nicholas Cage fan or are in the mood for some hilarious shenanigans, Primal is perfect for you. But, if you are here for the scares, don’t bother. It will be available in theaters and on demand on November 8, 2019.
WICKED RATING: 5/10
Director(s): Nick Powell
Writer(s): Richard Leder
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Famke Janssen, Kevin Durand
Release: Available in theaters and on demand on November 8, 2019.
Studio/ Production Co: Daniel Grodnik Productions, The Wonderfilm Media Corporation, Imprint Entertainment
Length: 97 min
Sub-Genre: Action, Thriller