Sundance Film Festival 2021
Aaron Hendry, Reza Sixo Safai
Sofia Boutella, Nicolas Cage, Nick Cassavetes
Métropole Films Distribution
Two American men, Hero (Nicolas Cage) and Psycho (Nick Cassavettes), walk into a Japanese bank in Samurai Town toting guns and screaming “Banzai!”. A small boy offers them gumballs. It does not end well. In another part of town, Bernice (Sofia Boutella), granddaughter of the town’s tyrannical ruler, The Governor (Bill Moseley), attempts to escape. It does not end well. Bernice is now trapped in a lawless locale known as The Ghostland, that The Governor deems too dangerous, and he wants her back. For this mission, he plucks Hero out of prison with an offer of freedom if he can find Bernice and bring her back, alive and “unsoiled”, in three days. It will not end well, if it ever ends at all.
Sion Sono and Nicolas Cage. Has there ever been a more perfect actor/director pairing in all of Fantasia's 25 years? The best part is that PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND is so much the movie you want it to be, as wild, original, visually delicious and just plain nuts as this collaboration suggests. Working off a script from Aaron Hendry and Reza Sixo Safai, Sono makes this world undeniably his own, and much of the fun comes from just seeing these two be themselves – Sono with his magnificent visuals and offbeat humour, and Cage, well, being Cage. Everyone else has also been given free rein – Boutella, Moseley, Tak Sakaguchi and cinematographer Sôhei Tanikawa all make memorable contributions – so much so that PRISONERS OF THE GHOSTLAND may be one of the most wholly original wasteland tales since George Miller hit the Outback. – Matthew Kiernan
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