Nicolas Cage kills it when he deals with psychos, Samurai, and ghosts.
The setting of “Prisoners of the Ghostland” basically combines the American frontier with a Samurai town with its own blend of Japanese and Southern American characters. They capture the tone and style, and merge quite well with in its visionary world, guided by director Sion Sono.
The poster for this movie has Nicolas Cage quoting: “The Wildest Movie I’ve Ever Made.” He’s probably right, because there are wackos, explosive devices in unwanted areas, and how the hero has to deal with them. And since this takes place in a Samurai town, there’s a lot of swooshing blades and slit men squirting blood. In his recent track record, he has been appearing in bizarre films like “Color Out of Space” and “Mandy,” so I suppose he has found himself a trend in cult followings, ones the general public wouldn’t much approve on, but rather groups of people who admire otherworldly filmmaking.
Cage stars as a notorious bank robber, who is ordered by the sinister governor (Bill Moseley) to find his adoptive granddaughter Bernice (Sofia Boutella) in a lost ghost town, known as Ghostland. To make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid, he given a black leather suit with explosive devices placed on his neck, arms, and testicles, almost like in the “Suicide Squad” movies. And I used the word “almost.” And he has three days to complete the rescue mission or….KABLOOEY!!!!
The Ghostland Cage travels to feels like something out of “Spirited Away” mixed with “Mad Max,” as its citizens wear masks, show off a little pizazz, and crazy people emerge. This ghost town has cursed them, talking away their voices, spirits, and hope. And various parts, he sees the apparitions of the people his partner-in-crime Psycho (Nick Cassavetes) has murdered. Even he drops by.
The bank robber finds Bernice, whose voice was taken away by the curse. And in order to escape from this Hellhole, they must team upon with some scavengers to build some cars and drive out. That’s when they get assorted lights on the cars, and that’s when they must fight against the real monsters.
You can easily tell the governor is the bad guy, when he dresses up like Boss Hogg in that white suit and hat and how he treats his Asian women. And also he doesn’t seem like the type of guy who would love his granddaughter when he gives the hero a 3-day period with explosive devices. Another bad parent I’ve recently seen on in film after “Don’t Breathe 2,” but unlike that loser, this one is more nostalgic. Moseley delivers the goods in this role.
Cage picks up the pace as a criminal who has to redeem himself by completing the rescue mission. He has attitude, he has dialogue, and he has a lot of crazy things to deal with. He’s a good sport in that notion. Even Boutella shines when she’s needed most, especially during the third act.
“Prisoners of the Ghostland” doesn’t exceed Cage’s last opus “Pig,” because the story isn’t always understandable and certain scenes go too far, but it does have a visual style and charisma all of its own. It’s feels like something out of Robert Rodriguez or Quentin Tarantino mixed with Tim Burton or Hayao Miyazaki.
In Select Theaters and Streaming On Demand This Friday