October 7, 2021
Prisoners of the Ghostland
By Don Morton
WTF did I just waste 103 minutes of my life watching? Nicolas Cage (in most shamelessly whacko mode) is a notorious convict in a post-nuclear-catastrophe Japan who is granted his freedom if he can find and rescue a warlord’s daughter (Algeria’s Sofia Boutella, now reportedly looking for a new agent) from a radioactive settlement called Samurai Town.
But first he’s locked into a explosive-equipped leather jumpsuit, spawning the film’s best line when he is warned, “Your trousers are also equipped with explosives… one at each test-e-quel.” Gotta love it. Sofia, by the way, comes off as a damsel who can apparently deal just fine with her own distress. Japanese cult director Sion Sono has a unique, hyperactive style that’s admired by some. Based on this, which is admittedly the only one of his movies I have seen, I can’t count myself among them. Basically, he throws copious amounts of weirdness, light, color, violence, and Japanese pop culture into a blender in the hope someone will call it art. Someone will. It isn’t.
So just your basic narratively incoherent, gonzo, dystopian, silly, neon-colored, samurai, acid western, revenge, redemption, Mad Max-wannabe, forced-camp death dream. It made me tired. The movie is ridiculous. The fact that it’s aware of this is not necessarily a good thing. Get drunk first if you go see it.
Local angle: Tokyo’s own Charles Glover stands out as Samurai Town’s mayor, solely for being the only cast member not given to overacting. (103 min)