Primal (2019)

primal

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The instincts of man and beast are unleashed in this exciting action film from stunt coordinator and director Nick Powell.

Big game hunter Frank Walsh is always looking for a big score. During his latest expedition, he has come across a rare white jaguar. He has it captured with the intention of selling him to the highest bidder. The townsfolk are in fear as the jaguar is believed to be a folklore creature that has plagued the village for many years. However, Frank sticks to his guns and ensures the captivity of the jaguar is intact as he heads on a boat to Puerto Rico.

However, Frank and his recent captures are not the only ones scheduled to be on the ship. The United States government had captured a traitorous ex-assassin turned terrorist named Loffler. Their intention is to extradite Loffler back to the United States and charge him with treason and espionage as well as his numerous killings. En route to Puerto Rico, Loffler fakes a seizure and tricks two protection agents. Loffler escapes and intends to take over the ship. As insurance, he sets the animals free, including monkeys, deadly snakes, and Frank’s white jaguar. Frank finds himself with no other choice but to try to help the government stop Loffler and ensure the safety of his most prized possession at the same time.

Back in 2014, Nicolas Cage and stunt coordinator extraordinaire Nick Powell worked together on Powell’s directorial debut, Outcast, in China. Powell intended to make a popcorn film, an action film meant for the fans. This is only his second film as a director but still makes good use of the script, which revolves around the titular instincts of both man and beast.

Nicolas Cage has been having an excellent resurgence as of late, thanks to films like last year’s surprise, Mandy. Already having quite a few films under his belt, Cage shows no signs of slowing down. Here, Cage doesn’t have to go over the top in the role of Frank, whose primal instincts are used against both man and beast. It starts with the latter as he comes face to face with what would be his most prized possession, a rare white jaguar. The former comes when he must use those instincts to find the villain of the film, Loffler.

And speaking of Loffler, it is roles like this as to why Kevin Durand is not only underrated but should be a fan favorite. Loffler is the type of villain who isn’t completely evil and slick. He has this sort of charisma that makes the role work as like Frank, he has to resort to using his primal instincts to ensure his escape and uses the animals as a sort of protection against those who try to re-capture him. However, it is when he confronts his enemies face to face that the charisma builds up and even brings up a surprising twist to the character towards the final act. While Famke Janssen makes the most of her role, a nurse, kudos goes to newcomer Jeremy Nazario as Rafael, a young kid whose father falls prey to one of the deadly animals onboard and here, Cage works well with him, showing a more softer side to his character.

The visual effects work well here for an indie action film. The dangerous animals were all created via CGI, but they look convincingly real, especially in the case of one character getting attacked by the escaped monkeys. The jaguar is well done as well, showing its primal instincts to attack anyone in its path.

Primal is a wild popcorn action film that makes good use of showcasing the primal instincts of man and beast with both Nicolas Cage and Kevin Durand driving the film as anti-hero and villain.

WFG RATING: B

Saban Films presents a Pimienta production in association with Daniel Grodnik Productions, The Wonderfilm Media Corp., Imprint Entertainment, and Artem Entertainment. Director: Nick Powell. Producers: Daniel Grodnik, Luillo Ruiz, Bret Saxon, Jeff Bowler, Krik Shaw, and Belly Torres. Writer: Richard Leder. Cinematography: Vern Nobles. Editing: Raul Marchand Sanchez.

Cast: Nicolas Cage, Famke Janssen, Kevin Durand, LaMonica Garrett, Michael Imperioli, Tommy Walker, Rey Hernandez, John Lewis, Braulio Castillo Jr., Jeremy Nazario.

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