It’s no secret that Nicolas Cage’s taste in movie roles has changed somewhat from the days when he starred in a-list movies like “Raising Arizona,” “Moonstruck” or “Leaving Lost Vegas.” The fifty-year-old actor appears to flip a coin when he decides what to make these days and sometimes he gets lucky—recently “The Croods” and “Joe” haven’t been embarrassing—and other times he ends up starring in films like “Outcast,” a period piece that careens through Europe and Asia like a drunken soldier on shore leave.
East meets west as the fourteen-year-old heir to the imperial throne Zhao (Bill Su Jiahang) is on the run from his from his bloodthirsty, power-mad brother Shing (Andy On). “I will have what is mine,” says Shing through clenched teeth. With his sister Princess Lian (Crystal Liu Yifei) in tow young the prince turns to holy warrior Jacob (Hayden Christensen), a Crusader tormented by his actions in the war, and his former partner, the Templar Knight-turned-outlaw Gallain (Nicholas Cage), for protection. “If you save this boy,” Gallain tells Jacob, “god will forgive you.”
Cage is in rare form here, theatrically dropping lines like “I am the White Ghost,” and laughing maniacally when he isn’t slashing and stabbing his way through Shing’s army. He isn’t in the disinterested reach-for-the-paycheque mode of “Left Behind” here, instead he’s in full-blown peacock mode, grimacing and growling his way through fight scenes so shaky it’s as if the camera was attached to a YoYo.
Christensen doesn’t fare much better but we don’t expect much from him. Cage disappoints because when he’s good, he’s brilliant but when he’s bad he’s catastrophic. His bad performances can make for some fun viewing—there’s a Nic Cage drinking game that will leave you hammered by the second acts starts—but his increasingly lazy work in movies like “Outcast” isn’t toast worthy, it’s embarrassing.