Primal follows a hunter with a prized catch on board a shipping vessel. Suddenly, he must help the crew survive when a crazed killer escapes his enclosure and lets the animals loose.
What is there to say about a movie in which Nicolas Cage and Kevin Durand get into a battle for who can bring more camp to the screen? There's not a whole lot to say, as it turns out...other than this movie is more entertaining than it has any business being, yet is overtly terrible in so many ways.
Firstly, Cage and Durand are a blast being at odds with each other. It felt like every scene the two actors were trying to one-up each other in the crazed overacting department, and Durand was holding his own, perhaps channeling is inner Tremor Brother from Smokin' Aces. Cage just channeled himself from the past 10 years. The end result is a cheesy action thriller that teeters back and forth between cleverly self aware and outright ridiculous and stupid.
It's worth noting that...well, I guess this is minor spoilers...the film has little to do with the white jaguar that dominates the marketing. In fact, there is almost more screen time for the other animals Durand's character unleashes, like snakes and monkeys that wreak havoc on the crew. Most of the action is set aside for Durand to mess people up and for Cage try to catch him between random explanations to others on how to handle the wild animals. The entire thing is jagged, choppy, and mostly senseless.
The old-school misogynistic dialogue between Famke Janssen and Nicolas Cage is ironically charming at times, but mostly it feels like misplaced pandering to a generation that grew up on macho 80s action movies. It was great to see Janssen again, as she tends to gravitate towards roles in films I enjoy. She does an admirable job here with a whacky script, but she has little to play off of outside of the overplayed banter between herself and Cage.
The effects work isn't terrible for the budget, but it doesn't carry any of the action sequences either. The most entertaining moments usually involve Durand, who I have sincerely missed seeing more often in my movies. The fodder characters are as poorly scripted as any SyFy Original creature feature or a stale paint-by-numbers slasher. Their roles are apparent from the beginning, and little is done to set up their deaths realistically. The horror is limited to a few gruesome animal deaths and Durand's mental instability, but this felt like it was designed to be an action flick with a creature feature tinge...and that tinge is very, very small.
It's a smorgasbord of B-movie junk food...but sometimes you enjoy a little junk food.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 5/10 Horror Quality: 2/10 Film Quality: 3/10