Set in the Wild West, Colton Briggs (Nicolas Cage) is a highly skilled gunslinger. During a criminal hanging, a shootout occurs, and Colton successfully shoots and kills various men. However, one man’s death after being gunned down by Colton’s fast draw was witnessed by his son, who is left alone feeling sad, angry, and filled with a vengeance.
Twenty years later, Colton is now a family man living with his wife, Ruth (Kerry Knuppe), and their young daughter, Brooke (Ryan Kiera Armstrong). Ruth asks Colton to walk his daughter to school before he opens his local store for another day of profitable trade. However, when Colton and Brooke arrive at school, they find it’s closed due to a teacher being unwell. Colton has no choice but to let his daughter join him for a day of work. However, while Colton and his daughter continue about their day, Ruth gets a visitor from a stranger who isn’t travelling alone. The stranger makes his intentions clear, saying he has unfinished business with Colton and is seeking revenge for his father’s death which occurred twenty years ago. When Colton receives word of the unexpected visitor, something awakens inside of him, and he is suddenly seeking vengeance too.
The Old Way is best described as a gritty revenge tale. The Western is heavy on the concept of revenge, and the pacing here is plodding, especially in the first act, which does take a while to get underway. The music is fine, but it’s also baffling. The score, at times, is loud and uplifting but unfitting for this kind of revenge tale and feels more suited to an upbeat family feature or an adventure.
Performance-wise, who wouldn’t be excited to see Cage in a cowboy hat with a thirst for revenge? But sadly, he is a weaker link here. There are moments we can appreciate Cage in, such as his monologues or how his character remains calm and focused during a gunfight. No fundamental character transformation occurs for Colton, though, making him seem dull for the vast majority. Actress Ryan Kiera Armstrong gives a more enjoyable performance, and her character changes dramatically when an element of revenge is birthed in her heart for the first time. Everything surrounding the bad guys is forgettable, and the dialogue focuses on bickering, arguments, disagreements, and praising how dangerous and skilled Colton is. Costume work here is generally okay, but everyone in this film looks very clean. As a western, it seems odd that everyone is covered in makeup, looking overly glamorous.
Overall, those who enjoy Westerns will be excited to see the legendary actor Nicholas Cage wear a cowboy hat and carry a slick gun in his holster. However, The Old Way is a slow burn and even takes a long time to get underway. With a basic storyline and a highly familiar revenge tale, the film offers very little that’s new or overly exciting. Dialogue delivery from Nicolas Cage doesn’t work well here, apart from his monologues. The icing on the cake sadly relates to the finale, which I found predictable and lacking a remarkable and lasting impact. The Old Way (2023) is Available on DVD from February 22nd.