Nicholas Cage does his best in this low budget traditional western film. One that doesn't have anything new to share to the genre, but does it's best with what it's given to tell its story. Everything within The Old Way is just fine, there's very few things to critique or applaud about it- in fact if it wasn't for the notable lead here, this would've been another VOD film that I'd likely have past over while starting off the new year.
Colton Briggs (Cage), is an old gunslinger type whose new civilian lifestyle is thrown array when a man (Noah le Gros) comes seeking vengeance. Thrown back into the lifestyle Briggs and his daughter (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) will seek out the man and put a stop to his vengeful plans.
Let's start off with the biggest positive this film has going for it, and that's the acting. Cage is his usual self, giving it his all in the role. people may criticize Cage for overacting in prior projects, but the one thing no one can criticize him for, is the fact that he will never give a half invested performance. This is no difference, he fully brings the Briggs character to life with the backstory given. There's never a moment he feels out of place, and it's actually a genre I'd love to see him explore some more. Ryan Kiera Armstrong though is the star of this film, it's the perfect bounce back for her after 2022's Firestarter. Playing Brooke, the daughter of Briggs, whenever she has time on the screen- she brings out better performances from her co stars, including Cage. Noah le Gros plays out vengeance seeking bandit, James McCallister, and he does a fine enough job. McCallister is one of the most standard western villains we've seen in a long time, hitting all the cliches, but le Gros does enough to seem formidable. Love seeing Indigenous actors getting work, I wish there was more for Kerry Knuppe to do in the film but the role was a very limited one. She still did enough to be memorable enough to be mentioned.
Screenplay level it's a very basic story, we've seen the western revenge stuff before. It does a fine job at retelling this kind of a story, namely with a very strong start to the film- I'd say the first act had me super engaged. It was from the middle acts where the film started to lose its grip on me and started having me be more and more uninterested with the direction of the story. It gets a fine enough ending, good enough that I cannot criticize the decisions made- but it won't be remembered past this weekend I'd imagine.
The weakest portion of the film is the fact that the low budget greatly affected the quality of the film. The budget unfortunately limited the amount of interesting things that other westerns can pull off. An example being the shootout between our outlaws and the US Marshalls, it directly looked like something a high school student could've done with none of it looking realistic enough to keep an audience member in belief. When we finally get to the epic moments of Briggs catching up to McCallister and his gang, most of the action is either hidden or goes by at a fast pace- because likely there just wasn't enough room left to play around and make the moments that should be rewarding, truly count.
Nicholas Cage should definitely do more in the Western genre, and Ryan Kiera Armstrong can add a wonderfully strong performance to her filmography. There just wasn't enough to validate watching this on VOD nor was there enough for me to remember this as the film season continues.