The film begins with a pair of guys robbing a bank. Based on what we see, we understand the robbery was unsuccessful, and something tragic happened that wasn’t part of the plan. One of the dangerous robbers (Nicolas Cage) is captured, arrested and placed in prison wearing only his underwear. He wakes up in a small town surrounded by skilled Samurais and will be given an unexpected opportunity.
Approached by the town’s Governor, he is given a dangerous mission to gain his freedom once again. We learn that the Governor’s granddaughter named Bernice (Sofia Boutella) has gone missing. The criminal agrees to the Governor’s offer and takes off into the sunset, riding a bicycle with hopes of finding Bernice and becoming free once again. The criminal is also fitted with a leather suit containing several bombs which will trigger if his behaviour is altered or if he doesn’t return within five days.
The film’s opening and the first act is tremendous. We learn that something tragic occurred and that our leading man is highly dangerous. The introduction to the plotline and mission is also great. While watching a leading hero be fitted to a bomb suit may seem familiar, it’s certainly more outrageous and wild than anything I’ve seen in sometime. But once our lead rides off to the sunset to begin his mission, the plot goes downhill.
Visually I found lots to appreciate. The visuals are a strong element of this film, and aspects like effects and costumes are pleasing. The set design is another area where I found myself pleasantly surprised. There are many cast extras to make it feel even more convincing as a town community while our leading character is stuck in a wasteland type of world.
But as a plot, I don’t even know where to begin. While I enjoyed the film initially, everything after the introduction is either too wild, odd or just downright confusing. Sure, even when something doesn’t make complete sense, viewers are still entertained due to the visuals and random line deliveries by Nicolas Cage. I kept watching, hoping things would make more sense by the end of the film, but sadly the finale was the worst element as it makes even less sense than anything else. Those who love Nicolas Cage doing Nicolas Cage things will be please by the character’s randomness, but it’s not enough to save the film. In the end, the plot almost feels incomplete, and there are many gaps in the story, which ultimately hurts the film the most.
Overall, this is a wild, odd and confusing film. Visually, the film is stunning to look at, and it’s highly evident that the filmmakers have gone out strong with their set designs, costumes and quantity of extras. Nicolas Cage is once again Nicolas Cage, but the plot is such a mess that by the end, I was still asking myself what on earth was going on with this film and what is it all about? It’s a film that ultimately feels incomplete, with lots of gaps relating to its story. As for the film’s genre, is it a western? A ghost story? A samurai film? No, people, it’s a Nic Cage film! Prisoners of the Ghostland (2021) is Now Available on Blu-ray & DVD!