- Nate Adams
'The Old Way' review: Nicolas Cage elevates flimsy western
Courtesy of Saban Films
Brett Donowho’s “The Old Way” is a cheaply made western one might stumble upon scrounging through the $5 DVD bin at Wal-Mart. Hell, the customer may even take a flier on it because Nicolas Cage slaps his iconic mug on the cover in the hopes you look past the film's questionable production values and one dimensional storytelling. In other words, what else would you expect to be released in the first weekend of January? Except “The Old Way,” for all its many flaws, isn’t a total loss, salvaged by its performers, namely Cage, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Clint Howard, Shiloh Fernandez, Noah Le Gros, and Abraham Benrubi, who at least make the tiresome and routine plotting somewhat bearable. Plus, who doesn’t want to see Cage in an old-fashioned western shoot-out?
Cage plays Colton Briggs (great name), once a ruthless killer now turned small business owner/family man by his wife Ruth (Kerry Knuppe) and daughter Brooke (Armstrong). As the title suggests, Briggs can revert back to his past lifestyle if tested correctly, but he’d prefer peace and quiet. But this is a revenge western and when a gang of thugs (lead by Noah Le Gors’ James McCallister) roll through town and murder Colton’s wife, we’re quickly acclimated to what “The Old Way” means. Of course, Briggs takes his young, surprisingly emotionless, daughter along for the journey to help track down the crew, teaching her how to be used as bait and shoot a target should the need arise (spoiler alert: it does).
As a father/daughter redemption story where the two characters are forced to interact and understand each other, the dynamics among Cage and Armstrong are stronger than what the opening scenes would suggest. Cage, known for this late career resurgence in meme culture and choppy direct-to-VOD garb, dials back the zaniness for something more reserved and collected here. Briggs is a calculated man who carefully dictates his path, even if that means putting himself in the line of fire to get results.
Alas, “The Old Way” looks like it was shot on the backlot of a C-level western wannabe (if the breeze were stronger, I fear the sets may have collapsed). Not to mention the inevitable connection McCallister has with our main gunslinger couldn’t be more obvious and inept, paving way for an anti-climatic though honest finale which smooths over Carl W. Lucas’ cliche riddled screenplay. The overall product could have been worse, and it's the father/daughter bonding between Cage and Armstrong that elevates this bargain bin western into an above average action flick nobody will remember two weeks from now.
THE OLD WAY opens in theaters Friday, January 6th before debuting on premium VOD January 13th.