I’m not even sure anymore what the general movie goers thoughts are on Nicolas Cage. He rarely has movies that have a wide cinema release (Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse his only recent one) and for every Mandy or Color Out Of Space, there’s a very average-at-best action thriller that no-one will remember even minutes after watching it.  So you are never quite sure what you’re gonna get with Nicolas Cage and that’s probably the best way to be!

Primal is at the very least – with its premise – interesting and a little bit crazy. Nicolas Cage plays Frank, a man who catches animals and usually sells them to the highest bidder. He currently has in his possession a white jaguar and gets on a ship to deliver it to his buyers.  Unfortunately for him, the ship is also transporting a deadly assassin – Richard (Kevin Durand) – who the American government is taking back home to be prosecuted. And as this is a DTV (or straight to streaming service as they might now be known) Nicolas Cage movie, you have probably guessed that those two things get mixed together when Richard escapes and lets loose all of the animals (because that obviously sounds like a good idea). Chaos ensues!

Maybe the most surprising thing about Primal is that it just doesn’t feature enough of the animals. Especially the animals attacking and killing people, which seems to be the main selling point of the movie.  I’m not sure why exactly, it’s probably easier for the director to focus on the assassin killing people but that’s just not as exciting. Unfortunately, and this might be another reason we don’t see as much of them as I would have liked, the animals are mostly CGI. Some seem not to be but the jaguar obviously is and any other ones that attack are too. I wanted to see more of the monkeys in particular because Cage gives a good description of what damage they can do.  But even the main focus of the movie, the jaguar, doesn’t get enough screen time.

Cage is hit and miss, much like the film as a whole.  Sometimes he shows his charismatic self but other times it does feel like he’s just going through the motions. Kevin Durand at least seems to be having fun in his role as the killer. And it is a fun role to have as he throws all kinds of facial expressions around. The fight scenes he’s involved in are pretty decent too. The rest of the cast are fine without impressing much. The most well known being Famke Jannssen but she doesn’t put in one of her best performances.

For a film about a group of deadly animals let loose on a ship, that also has an escaped serial killer on board, Primal just isn’t as entertaining as it should be. Nicolas Cage fans will no doubt get some enjoyment from this and it’s not awful but I expected a little more. Perhaps as the director’s only other movie is Outcast – a film featuring Cage and Hayden Christensen – about ‘a mysterious warrior teams up with the daughter and son of a deposed Chinese Emperor to defeat their cruel brother, who seeks their deaths.’ – I should have expected less. Hopefully Cage’s other big movie this year Colour Out Of Space will be much better.

Dir: Nick Powell

Scr: Richard Leder

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Kevin Durand, Famke Janssen

Prd: Jeff Bowler, Daniel Grodnik, Luillo Ruiz, Bret Saxon, Kirk Shaw, Belly Torres

Music: Guillaume Roussel

DoP: Vern Nobles

Country: USA

Year: 2020

Runtime: 1h 37min

Primal is released on Download on the 10th February and DVD 17th February