Jan 202020

Primal may not be a fantastic thriller and the core plot is convoluted, but I did find some of this to be entertaining enough and it does seem like Nicolas Cage was actually trying rather than mailing it in for the paycheck.




Genre(s): Suspense/Thriller
Lionsgate | R – 97 min. – $22.99 | December 31, 2019

Date Published: 01/20/2020 | Author: The Movieman

Directed by: Nicholas Powell
Writer(s): Richard Leder (written by)
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Famke Janssen, Kevin Durand, Michael Imperioli, LaMonica Garrett

Features: Featurette
Slip Cover: Yes
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 1

Audio: English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.39
Subtitles: English SDH, English, Spanish
Disc Size: 24.95 GB
Total Bitrate: 32.29 Mbps
Codecs: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A

Lionsgate provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.

THE MOVIE — 2.75/5

Note: This portion contains some SPOILERS, so beware.

Plot Synopsis: When Frank Walsh (NICOLAS CAGE), a hunter and collector of rare and exotic animals, bags a priceless white jaguar for a zoo, he figures it’ll be smooth sailing to a big payday. But the ship bearing Frank’s precious cargo has two predators caged in its hold: the cat, and a political assassin (KEVIN DURAND) being extradited to the U.S. After the assassin breaks free — and then frees the jaguar — Frank, with the assistance of Dr. Ellen Taylor (FAMKE JANSSEN), feverishly stalks the ship’s cramped corridors in hot pursuit of his prey.

Review: There’s no doubt that the years have not been kind to Nicolas Cage, not helping that the age of the superstar, where an actor alone could open a movie and audiences will come, but add to that, Cage has also face financial problems. So, it seems like he’ll take any part thrown his way, leading to some real duds (Left Behind, 211, Between Worlds) amongst many forgettable, if not passable, flicks. His latest is Primal and kind of like some of this other films over the past several years, this wasn’t an altogether bad movie and while he doesn’t give an off-the-wall performance as he had in Arsenal, I did find him somewhat charming and reminded me the guy does possess on-screen charisma, at least when he’s not phoning it in.

The plot itself is perhaps the biggest problem. There are two points that were rather convoluted, one was why the Fed couldn’t fly prisoner – played by Kevin Durand – on a private plane with the reason given being he has a medical condition about drastic changes in altitude being harmful to his health, thus they by boat was the only option. The second was, as brought up by Walsh (Cage) himself, why that s-hold of a ship? The reason: it was all they could get in the short timeframe; otherwise the local government that captured him would set him free. The first point, I could look past, the second was a bit ridiculous. But once you go beyond that, I found the tight setting to be a positive and as I said before, Cage did seem to be engaged, much more so than in the past.

Besides Cage, this does sport a respectable enough supporting cast including Fame Janssen, probably being relegated to these kinds of movies and she made for a serviceable if not underdeveloped lone female role, Kevin Durand was a capable evil antagonist and Michael Imperioli had his character make an odd turn, one that makes little sense (he basically helps the assassin stay alive, strange since that guy has plenty of secrets so one would think taking him out of commission would be the better option); I like Imperioli but the script did him no favors.

Primal, which was originally titled Persona Non Grata and a script that’s been around Hollywood for two decades, was helmed by Nick Powell in only his second film the last being Outcast also starring Nic Cage. Powell’s primary work has been as a second unit director and stunt coordinator on some high profile projects, and honestly I suppose considering what I assume was a limited budget, some of the stunts were alright, though the visual effects, especially of the white jaguar were probably par with a video game, which kind of lessens the danger in that regard.



This release comes with a semi-glossy slip cover and inside the Digital HD redemption code. The only feature included is The Making of Primal (9:13) behind-the-scenes featurette.


VIDEO – 4.0/5

Lionsgate releases Primal onto Blu-ray presented with a 2.39 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 1080p high-definition transfer. For the most part, this is a satisfactory looking picture here, detail is decent enough, blacks are fairly stark and colors are limited since a good portion of the film takes place in dark interiors (with a yellowish hue with the lighting) with a few daylight scenes; that said, the reds, once the power is knocked out, does have a fine contrast to the darker background.

AUDIO – 4.25/5

As with the picture, not much to the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track, kind of rare nowadays save for The Walking Dead I believe, and this is a reasonable lossless track with some good depth and with several fight sequences, all channels gets used. Coming through the center speaker, dialogue is crisp while the fronts and especially rear channels does output the variety of sounds of a running cargo ship.


OVERALL – 2.5/5

Primal may not be a fantastic thriller and the core plot is convoluted, but I did find some of this to be entertaining enough and it does seem like Nicolas Cage was actually trying rather than mailing it in for the paycheck. This was a tad better than I expected, though still only worth a rental at best.


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