Review by Amanda Gilmore for Mr. Will Wong
A ruthless banker, aptly named Hero (Nicolas Cage), sits in a cell in the treacherous frontier city of Samurai Town. He gets a chance to seek redemption when he’s hired by the despicable Governor (Bill Moseley) to find one of his missing employees (Sofia Boutella), who he considers his adopted granddaughter. But this journey isn’t going to be easy. The granddaughter is being held a prisoner of the Ghostland, a place no one escapes from. And if Hero doesn’t bring her back within 5 days, the leather suit he’s forced to wear will detonate.
Popular Japanese Filmmaker Sion Sono creates a post-apocalyptic Western that’s just the right kind of bonkers. He’s working off a Script by Co-writers Aaron Hendry and Reza Sixo Safai that tells a mythical journey filled with ghosts, gunslingers and more. One of the greatest scenes happens toward the end. The main fight sequence, that’s expertly shot, is entertaining, funny, and has some splashes of gore. The Film is perfect for a midnight audience and a match for Cage.
The heightened performance style Cage has become known for, labelled Cage Rage by fans, thrives in Prisoners of the Ghostland. His acting matches Sono’s vision and atmosphere. The script offers many characters to give unhinged performances. That extends to some of the lesser-explored female characters working for The Governor. These actors make an impact with great delivery of one-liners and reaction shots.
Although people might come for Cage, they stay for the talented Boutella. She’s written and thought to be the damsel character, but by the end, she becomes a hero for herself and a friend under the Governor’s rule. It’s wonderful to watch her go from voiceless to a sword-wielding fighter. This is refreshing to see in a film where the main character’s name is Hero. But then again, Prisoners of the Ghostland is a mixed bag that is liberated of genre conventions.
Overall, this isn’t going to be a film every audience will love. But it’s an entertaining, wacky ride that is visually stunning thanks to Sono’s creative vision.
Prisoners of the Ghostland screens at Sundance:
Live Premiere: January 31 at 9 PM (EST)
On-Demand (available for 24 hours): February 2 at 10 AM (EST)
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