The Old Way (2023)

Director: Brett Donowho

Running Time: 95 Minutes

Certification: 15

Starring: Nicolas Cage, Clint Howard, Abraham Benrubi, Nick Searcy, Noah Le Gros, Kerry Knuppe, Ryan Kiera Armstrong

With a lengthy career spanning four-decades, Nicolas Cage makes a career first with this film being his first old-school western. Such a wild-west locale is felt from the opening moments, as a crowd gathers to watch a man about to be hung. The event is disrupted by the victim's brother, resulting in a shoot-out which ends with Colton Briggs (Nicolas Cage) killing a man in-front of his grief-stricken son.

Twenty-years later, Colton lives an idyllic life as a store-owner and a family man. He buries away his frustrations to not ruin this life he's built, although the changes when the consequences of Colton's past return for revenge. This awakens him from a domestic slumber, as he travels with his daughter Brooke (Ryan Kierra Armstrong) intent on vengeance.

Working from Carl W. Lucas' script, director Brett Donowho tells a familiar story about a man thrust back into old habits within a new world. It's a tale which shares important elements through dialogue instead of showing it through the story and characters, with a notable example being how audiences are told Colton was changed by his wife's love, yet aren't given enough opportunities to show this. One wishes there was more faith in the performances conveying such elements instead of expository dialogue heard in many other films before.

In the lead role, Cage decently captures the former gunslinger whose attempts at escaping his violent past are shattered, leaving him determined to hunt the figure responsible while joined by his daughter, Brooke. Her initial appearances feels bordering on old-fashioned caricature, as though she's about to say "aw shucks", before desiring to learn Colton's methods. Armstrong has fantastic chemistry with Cage, as they go from awkward conversation in early scenes to bonding over how grief has left them numb.

For a tale which promises to be an old-school western, it's unfortunate the action feels lacking in thrills. Leading the villains is McCallister (Noah Le Gros), a by-product of Colton's violent past whose connection is apparent from early on, yet that information is bizarrely treated like a secret for so long. The antagonistic group he leads are the film's least-interesting element, as these caricatures lack menace whenever they appear on-screen. Despite this, Donowho has made a solid western which examines the impact and legacy people leave on further generations.

The Old Way is available in cinemas, on, and other digital platforms from 13th January