I could fill this entire review with a heavy sigh and it would basically summarize my opinion on Outcast. This is one of the dullest movies you can see, and contains absolutely nothing of value, save for perhaps one of Nicolas Cage’s worst fake accents to-date, which may or may not be saying a lot. Here he tries to be what I can only assume is Irish, and yet he only hits that mark about 10% of the time. At least Hayden Christensen, our lead, is more or less successful at the accent part.
Our plot takes place in China, during the 12th century, where apparently everyone speaks perfect English and half of the native residents talk with an American accent. A king has failing health, so he decides that his youngest son, Zhao (Bill Su Jiahang) is going to inherit the throne. The older brother (Andy On) isn’t okay with that, so he murders his father, frames his younger brother, and begins to chase him down. Their sister, Lian (Liu Yifei), takes Zhao and goes into hiding, eventually found by Jacob (Hayden Christensen), who decides to protect them.
Where does Cage fit in? Well, he used to serve with Jacob as a crusader, but they had a falling out — Jacob has personal demons to overcome that may have manifested themselves on the battlefield years earlier — and now no longer speak. Cage is actually only in the film for about 15 minutes, and the only reason we’re glad that he shows up is because it means we get a little bit of hammy acting for a short period of time. Otherwise, his appearance does not excite.
This is a story you’ve seen before, and I wager it’s been told far better than it has been here. It’s incredibly bland as seen in Outcast, and feels like it was included just so that it could give us some sword fights. Unfortunately, none of the sword fights are any good. Anyone can be an action hero when you have four cuts between clashing swords, especially if the camera is all over the place. That’s what happens in this movie. You can barely even tell what’s happening for a lot of the action.
You know, it’s kind of weird that Hayden Christensen, someone who has pretended to sword fight before, would need the filmmakers to hack together the action scenes like this. Did he forget all of his Star Wars training? Or is there just no talent behind the camera in order to put together coherent action? Given that Outcast has been directed by Nick Powell, a stuntman who’s directing his first feature film, that’s quite possibly the case. But you’d think he would be able to know how action scenes are made, right? I guess not.
You’re unlikely to care, anyway. Jacob is the only character with “depth,” but that depth is essentially a single back story thing that he’s hoping to atone for. Cage’s character has no depth or development, which is something that I can say for every Asian character in the film, too. Why should a ten-year-old kid inherit the throne, anyway? I mean, the villain’s evil, sure, but that’s all there is to him. By default, everyone else is good. And that’s … all there is to anyone. Boring.
You already know Nicolas Cage is going to be terrible in this. When was the last good Nicolas Cage performance, anyway? Bad Lieutenant? He’s horrible in this, but at least he brings a little bit of insanity to an otherwise completely dull and dreary production. Hayden Christensen frowns a lot, Yifei Liu is just sort of there, and we actually forget about Bill Su Jiahang for a lot of the film, which is interesting given how important he supposedly is. Oh, and I’m not even going to start on the obligatory romance that’s so woefully underdeveloped that it’s laughable.
Outcast is a horrible movie in which Hayden Christensen gets to go to China and fight bad guys in terrible fight scenes with very little importance. Does that sound like a good time to you? I sincerely hope not. Even if it does, Outcast is a terrible movie with no redeeming features that’s been lazily put together. Why? I don’t know, as it doesn’t seem like it has the potential to make lots of money. Maybe the filmmakers genuinely hoped they were making something good. The resulting film is anything but.