Nicolas Cage, I just can’t quit you. The quasi-venerable actor is back in another throwaway piece of filmmaking, this time a western called The Old Way. The plot is simple: an aging cowboy’s wife is murdered, and so he sets out with his stoic daughter to hunt down those responsible.
Though it’s harmless enough, The Old Way boasts very little reason why anyone should mosey over to this title. Written and directed by a pair of direct-to-video filmmakers, The Old Way shows its limitations across the board: so-so writing, so-so-acting, a mediocre story, and equally forgettable action.
Given the right material I could see Cage thriving in a western, but this is not that film. Aside from one scene, his typical flare is dampened by old-school, clunky dialogue; director Brett Donowho seems content simply to have the actor headlining the cast. It’s a shame because I would have liked to see Cage play an eccentric cowboy, or a ruthless cowboy, or something, anything other than the bland, by-the-numbers gunslinger we’re given here.
The Old Way hints at something better. Cage didn’t do anything for me, but Dean Armstrong as the villainous Clark tries his best to be charismatically evil, even if the dialogue doesn’t always do him favor. It’s also nice to see Clint Howard, one of my favorite and criminally underutilized character actors, even if he’s relegated to the idiot sidekick role. Further, young Ryan Kiera Armstrong finally gets to flex her muscles in the third act; it’s a shame she isn’t given much to do earlier.
What could have been the film’s saving grace never happens. Aside from a few smatterings of action throughout, The Old Way is unfortunately a slow boil adventure that never cranks up the heat. I was hoping the movie would mount to some kind of explosive finale, but that explosive finale never happens.
The Old Way is like a gun without bullets. It threatens danger, but it fires blanks. Nicolas Cage, I wish I could quit you.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.