Prisoners of the ghostland

Prisoners of the ghostland
Running time:100 minutes
Director:Sion Sono
Release date:17 september 2021

Mulder's Review

This year's Sundance Film Festival will have given us the opportunity to discover a wide range of American independent cinema, including action films as original as they are effective, such as the new film and American premiere by the prolific Japanese director Sion Sono, Prisoners of the ghostland (Suicide Club (2001), Noriko's Dinner Table (2006), Love Exposure (2008), Cold Fish (2010), Tokyo Vampire Hotel (2017). Shot mainly in Japan, Prisoners of the Ghostland is a successful mix of western, action film, samurai and post-apocalyptic science fiction, all by a director who brings his own aestheticism and refuses to sink into American conformism.

In the not-so-distant future, a bank robber (Nicolas Cage) serving his prison sentence is given a mission in exchange for release by a violent governor whose adopted daughter has been kidnapped. To make sure this unannounced man accepts his mission, he is dressed in a costume that will self-destruct in five days if his mission fails. Prisoners of the ghostland surprises not only by its minimalist treatment, but above all by the fact that Nicolas Cage is found in the role of a vigilante ready to do anything and not lacking in humor. Even if this film will not revolutionize the genre, it shows once again that Nicolas Cage, in moving from Hollywood blockbusters to independent productions, has lost none of his stature and his presence and applied acting is an added value.

By discovering the journey of this non-conformist hero who does not seem to be in particularly good shape, this film succeeds in mixing the particular approach of Japanese films with that of an American B-series in which permanent inventiveness compensates for a budget that one feels very reduced. In this post-apocalyptic world we will meet vengeful ghosts, gangsters without any code, but also a tribe that seems to obey a rather particular cult and explains how society after a nuclear disaster has learned to relearn how to live.

Aaron Hendry's scenario, Reza Sixo Safai, is a particularly good one and offers its dose of adrenaline and turnarounds rather well brought. Of course we will think of the first films of the Mad Max film saga but with a Nicolas Cage always as azimuthal as ever, who seems to take a pleasure to get out of his Hollywood roles to reinvent himself in independent productions.

Prisoners of the ghostland should have a great career when it will be released directly on video in the coming months. Note that following its world premiere screening at the Sundance Film Festival, RLJE Films has purchased this film for a future distribution.

Prisoners of the ghostland
Directed by Sion Sono
Produced by Michael Mendelsohn, Laura Rister, Ko Mori, Reza Sixo Safai, Nate Bolotin
Executive Producers: Natalie Perrotta, Nick Spicer, Aram Tertzakian, Yuji Sadai
Written by Aaron Hendry, Reza Sixo Safai
Starring Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, Nick Cassavetes, Bill Moseley, Tak Sakaguchi, Yuzuka Nakaya
Music by Joe Trapanese
Cinematography: Sohei Tanikawa
Production Designer: Toshihiro Isomi
Costume Designer: Chieko Matsumoto
Edited by Taylor Levy
Production Company: Untitled Entertainment, Patriot Pictures, Union Patriot Capital Management, Eleven Arts, XYZ Films
Distributed by XYZ Films
Release date: February 1, 2021 (Sundance), september 17, 2021 (United States)
Running time: 103 minutes

Seen on February 1, 2021 (Sundance Festival)

Mulder's Mark: