Movies

How The Straight-To-VOD Nicolas Cage Movie ‘Primal’ Explains The 2020 Election

The 2020 Presidential Election is this week, which will bring to an end the strangest and most stressful campaign season I hope any of us ever see. It’s been a lot. It’s been too much, some of us have been saying, out loud, to the empty rooms we’ve been confined to since March. You are perfectly within your rights to be fried crispy right now. And this is where I think I can help. You see, I realized something this weekend: it helps to think of the 2020 Presidential election through the lens of the straight-to-VOD 2019 Nicolas Cage film Primal, because once you start doing that, a lot of scattered puzzle pieces in your brain start locking together and a clearer picture emerges. Look at Donald Tr-…

Hmm. It’s dawning on me that you might not have seen the movie Primal. Okay. Okay. We can salvage this. I’ll just show you a quick summary from a Google search, which should tell you just about everything you need to know.

Hunter and collector Frank Walsh expects a big payday after bagging a priceless white jaguar for a zoo. But the ship bearing Frank’s precious cargo has another predator — a political assassin facing extradition to America. When the prisoner manages to break free, Walsh must utilize his expert skills to capture the dangerous killer — not dead, but alive.

I mean, hell yeah, right? Look how many things are going on there. You’ve got Nicolas Cage on a boat with a rogue assassin and a priceless white jaguar. How did it take us until 2019 to make this movie? It’s incredible. At one point Nicolas Cage finds himself trapped in a pit with the priceless white jaguar, and he has only a knife and his guile to protect him, and that point is less than four minutes into the movie. I am not lying about any of this. And that’s what brings us back to the point I was going to make: this particular election, this entire year, when you think about the Democrats and the Republicans, especially, has…

You probably want to know how the assassin escaped. Okay. Real quick. See, he has this brain condition, right? Changes in altitude can throw him into a deadly seizure and the government needs him alive. That’s why they had to travel by boat instead of by plane, and why they had to bring along a Navy doctor played by Famke Janssen, who is also in this movie. The assassin throws himself into a fake seizure and kills the guards who come in to assist him and he takes their weapons and releases all of Nicolas Cage’s animals — Nicolas Cage is also transporting poisonous snakes and birds and monkeys; it’s quite literally a zoo in there — and gets to the business of creating chaos. It’s great. The boat’s chef gets murdered by the monkeys because he tried to harm one of their babies while they were all locked in the kitchen together. At some point, it all basically becomes Die Hard on a barge with wild beasts of the jungle running amok, too, walkie talkies and all. Again, just incredible.

Anyway, when you look at what the Biden campaign has done, or tried to do, you…

Okay. There’s one other thing you need to know about Primal before I tie this all together and there’s no way around it: Michael Imperioli is in the movie. Christopher Moltisanti from The Sopranos himself. He is all the way in the movie, as a gray-haired U.S. Attorney who is later revealed to be a crooked NSA agent during a standoff in which he is holding a gun on Nicolas Cage, who is holding a bow and arrow on the rogue assassin, who is holding a gun on Famke Janssen, who is also an animal lover who does not approve of Nicolas Cage’s plan to sell the priceless white jaguar to the highest bidder. He is killed moments later. Rest in peace, crooked NSA agent played by Michael Imperioli.

A few additional things you should know about Nicolas Cage’s character:

  • He flamed out of 8 zoos in 10 years because he has what Famke Janssen’s Navy doctor correctly diagnosed as “a problem with authority”
  • The rogue assassin captures him around the midpoint of the movie and locks him up in the cage that was holding the priceless white jaguar, at which point I said, out loud, with a little too much excitement, “Cage in a cage!”
  • He makes his own tranquilizer darts, which is how he survived the pit with the priceless white jaguar earlier in the movie

Also, right before he runs off to track down the rogue assassin for the final battle, he and Famke Janssen have this conversation, which is maybe the greatest piece of dialogue I’ve ever seen.

Lionsgate
Lionsgate
Lionsgate

The big final showdown features an armed-to-the-teeth rogue assassin and a blowgun-spitting Nicolas Cage engaged in guerilla warfare on a rusty barge in international waters. Cage pops him twice with the tranq darts and then strings him up by his feet with some sort of heavy machinery and chain combination and leaves him there to be dinner for the very hungry priceless white jaguar. When the doctors on the shore report back at the end of the movie, they say they had to identify the rogue assassin using dental records because the priceless white jaguar had stripped the rest of him clean. This happens just before Famke Janssen lies for him to keep him out of hot water for the animal smuggling and he reveals that he’s donating the priceless white jaguar to a wildlife sanctuary. It’s sweet. Everyone seems to have forgotten that a little boy’s father got bit by one of the escaped illegal snakes and was — at this very moment — barely clinging to life because Nicolas Cage had neglected to bring any anti-venom.

And really, when you think about how the political climate we’re dealing with these days, you c-…

Wait! I forgot to tell you about the parrot! There’s a wisecracking parrot on the boat! He’s been following Nicolas Cage because Nicolas Cage fed him at a bar once, and Nicolas Cage hates him, and he likes to pipe himself into the action every now and then with one of the four things he knows how to say: “Meow,” “uh oh,” “time to go,” and “take him out,” the last of which he says whenever he sees a gun, which plays an important part in keeping Nicolas Cage alive during an ambush. When the movie ends they are best friends and Nicolas Cage has named him Einstein. The two of them are thinking about giving up the animal smuggling game and going back to work at a zoo near where Famke Janssen lives, which gives us a nice little happy ending that, again, takes place maybe five minutes after the terrified little boy’s father got rushed off the rusty barge because a maniac animal smuggler packed two of the world’s most dangerous snakes but not the antidote to save anyone. Really, truly, just a remarkable movie. I might watch it again on Tuesday night.

And this is where I confess, as you’ve probably figured out, that I am not ever going to get around to discussing what any of this has to do with the election. If I’m being completely honest here, I watched just Primal on Saturday night in an effort to unplug from the world for 96 minutes, and it was so nutso and beautiful that I felt compelled to write about it, but I figured “A Breathless Explanation of the Plot of the Straight-to-VOD 2019 Nicolas Cage Film ‘Primal’” would be a much harder sell to both you and my editors the day before the election than “How The Straight-To-VOD Nicolas Cage Movie ‘Primal’ Explains The 2020 Election,” so here we are, I guess. I’m sorry for tricking you. Kind of. I am kind of sorry for tricking you.

I think you understand why I did it, though.

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