Frank Walsh (Cage) is a poacher in the jungles of Brazil; a loner who traps exotic animals for export to collectors and zoos in the US. His latest capture, El Fantasma Gato, is beyond rare. Worth maybe $1 million. “It’s a white jaguar,“ he says. “Maybe 350 to 400 pounds. Doesn’t like people.“ “Just like you Frank,“ says his kid sidekick (Jeremy Nazario) in the only comment that passes for character work in the “Primal’s” stripped-down b-movie world.
The action begins with Frank transports the animal on the large cargo ship. Trouble is, the US government is using the same ship to transport a psychopathic killer to justice. Held Hannibal Lecter-style in a cage below deck by Navy doctor Ellen Taylor (Famke Janssen) and Government lawyer Freed (Michael Imperioli), Richard Loffler (Kevin Durand) is a former military man turned international terrorist.
This is a B-movie, so no amount of security, chains or wild animals can stop Loffler from causing havoc on the high seas. Only one man, with a special set of skills and a rare white jaguar, can stop Loffler’s rampage. It’s nature gone wild on the high seas as Walsh snorts, “I’m going hunting.”
“Primal” is the kind of movie Nicolas Cage bangs out between visits to his tax lawyer. It’s a film so far beneath has talent you have to wonder why he signed on. Did he always want to work with a talking parrot? Does he get paid by the cliché these days? Hard to know. What is for sure is that “Primal” is one of those movies where the sheer stupidity of the story supplies the only entertainment value. The thrills fall short and the action is almost nonexistent but it’s almost worth the price of a rental to see Cage try and take down Loffler with a poison blow dart gun or argue with his parrot.
“Primal” will make you yearn for the days when Nic Cage movies like “Con Air,” “Gone in 60 Seconds” and “The Rock” promised and delivered offbeat delights. Cage brings his patented oddball performance style along for the ride but even that isn’t enough to give “Primal’s” bland storytelling and lazy action some zip.