PRIMAL Review – Ferocious Thriller Warns, Don’t Mess With Nicolas Cage’s Cat!
Starring Nicolas Cage, Kevin Durand, Famke Janssen
Written by Richard Leder
Directed by Nick Powell
Imagine a much more savage version of Noah’s Ark, with Nicolas Cage yelling some truly great lines about his cat while fighting bad guy Kevin Durand, and you have the new movie Primal. Lionsgate will release Primal in theaters and on demand November 8th.
Written by Richard Leder, known for the TV movies Scared Silent (2002) and The Bad Son (2007), and directed by Nick Powell (Outcast), Primal is an action-packed thrill ride. Primal stars Nicolas Cage (Mandy) as Frank Walsh, a collector for zoos, Kevin Durand (The Strain) as Richard Loffler, a mercenary assassin, and Famke Janssen (X-Men Franchise) as Dr. Ellen Taylor, a neuropsychologist.
Frank Walsh has been in the Amazon hunting exotic and deadly animals for zoos. Walsh gets lucky and captures a rare white jaguar and plans to transport it, with the other animals he’s caught, including monkeys and snakes, aboard a Greek shipping freighter to sell to zoos in the United States. There are a lot of animals in Primal and one of my only complaints is that the white jaguar is CGI. I suppose it would be impossible, and quite dangerous, to use a real jaguar. Walsh doesn’t know that political assassin Richard Loffler is being secretly extradited to the U.S. and is also on the freighter.
Richard Loffler is the head of a terrorist group charged with murder and crimes against humanity, who suffers from a brain disease that doesn’t allow him to fly, so he is restrained in a cage on the freighter and on his way to the United States. Neuropsychologist Dr. Ellen Taylor is a Lieutenant in the United States Navy and is planning to study Loffler’s illness. Also along for the trip is Paul Freed (Michael Imperioli), a United States attorney.
There’s nothing deep or philosophical going on here, and one of the things that makes Primal work is that the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously. Nicolas Cage was destined to play Frank Walsh, who doesn’t give a shit about anything, not even the chaos erupting around him, and undoubtedly has the best lines in the film. As evidenced by some of his previous roles, Kevin Durand is excellent at playing the villain, and there’s something incredibly enjoyable about watching him go up against Nicolas Cage. Primal wasn’t meant to be a serious film. The dark humor in the script combined with the incredulous scenario aboard the ship genuinely works in the film’s favor.
As you would expect, Loffler manages to escape and free all the animals on the ship, which sends Walsh into a rage. The editing is exceptional and there is even one scene of a poor crew member being violently attacked by monkeys that is quite memorable. The only thing Walsh cares about is safely getting the animals to their destination so he can get paid. When one of the crew members threatens to shoot the white jaguar, which is loose on the ship, Walsh responds with, “If you kill my cat, I’ll blow your head off,” one of many lines uttered by Walsh during the film that seem like some of the most Nicolas Cage lines ever written.
I’m certainly not saying Primal is a perfect film, but there is something about watching Nicolas Cage fight to the death against Kevin Durand while a bunch of wild animals run amok aboard a ship that is supremely satisfying. Despite the outrageous story, Nicolas Cage is at the top of his game as Frank Walsh and Kevin Durand is fantastically evil as terrorist Loffler. Famke Janssen gives an effective supporting role as Dr. Ellen Taylor and the sinister twist involving Michael Imperioli’s Paul Freed is highly entertaining. So, grab some popcorn, sit back and watch the madness of Primal unfold and appreciate it for what it is; a fiercely good time.
Primal benefits greatly from not taking itself too seriously and giving Nicolas Cage some of the most Nicolas Cage lines ever written.