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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jan 26, 2023



‘THE OLD WAY’ is an old fashioned western reminiscent of the cowboy movies that the iconic John Wayne did with kids as his co-stars, like “True Grit”, “The Cowboys” and “The Searchers”.  

The film’s promo says it’s the first Western of Oscar-winning actor Nicolas Cage, but this is not true as he did “Prisoners of the Ghostland”, which is also a western but set in Japan, with the setting constructed like the old American West. 

And right after “The Old Way”, Cage’s next movie is another Western, “Butcher’s Crossing”, a frontier story set in Colorado.   

“The Old Way” starts in Montana in the late 1870s. Cage is a notorious bounty hunter named Colton Briggs who turns a hanging in the town square into a veritable bloodbath. 

He tries to help a man who’s about to be hanged, but ends up gunning down the guy himself in front of his son, James, who understandably hates Colton’s guts.   

In the next scene, 20 years have passed and Briggs is now a changed man, married to a doting wife, Ruth (Kerry Knuppe), and father to a feisty 12-year old girl, Brooke (Ryan Kiera Armstrong). 

He now lives peacefully managing his own mercantile store and their own farm.

Briggs walks his daughter Brooke to school then goes to mind his store. 

Then one day, four men in horses ride up to their home. 

When Briggs and Brooke return home, Ruth has already been killed by the men whose leader is James (Noah Le Gros), the boy who wants to take revenge on Briggs. 

US Marshall Franklin Jarret (Nick Searcy) tells Briggs he’s really hunting down McAllister and his gang for robbery. 

He tells Briggs not to take revenge on his wife’s killers and just leave it all to the law. 

Briggs buries his wife and the Marshall notices that his daughter Brooke doesn’t grieve or show any emotion.    

But Briggs is determined to put the law into his own hands. 

He brings out his guns, burns their place and takes Brooke along to hunt down his wife’s murderers. 

Along the way, he finds out that Jarret and his deputies have been ambushed by James and his gang. 

He helps get the bullet out of an injured deputy’s gunshot wound then continues his journey to the town of Santa Rosa to find James and his men. 

The movie’s climax is set in Santa Rosa, where James gets to capture Brooke and uses her as a hostage to corner Briggs.  

“The Old Way” is the kind of movie with the revenge angle retread that have been used several times before. 

Critics enjoyed tearing it to pieces, saying Cage did it just for the paycheck now that he’s a has been. 

But we find it quite entertaining as Director Brett Donowho strikes a traditional Wild West tone, probably in deference to the movie’s title. 

The movie is quite involving for us, mainly because of the odd relationship between Briggs and his daughter.  

The scene where Cage opens himself up to his daughter is quite touching. 

He confesses that he used to be a cold-blooded gunfighter with no feelings of remorse. 

But when he met his wife, she changed him for good. His gunslinging days became a thing of the past and he turns into a respectable businessman and a caring family man.  

His daughter then also admits she similarly has difficulty in feeling any intense emotion and doesn’t even know how to cry. 

Briggs finds his courageous daughter as his unlikely partner in his climactic showdown with the bad guys.  

Both Cage and Armstrong are superb in their respective roles and make the film worth watching. 

They’re both impressive scene in that fireside scene where they bond as they share their mutual emotional inadequacies. 

It could be that they have a personality disorder and for all we know, they’re both within the autism spectrum, but it’s not properly diagnosed since that word has not been invented yet at that time.

Their father-daughter relationship starts as awkward,  but becomes emotionally affecting as the story reaches its tear-filled conclusion. 

Cage is convincing as the world weary Briggs who finds a new life in his family after he did a lifetime’s worth of shooting down people. 

Armstrong as the 12-year Brooke really comes off as Cage’s chip off the old block who both struggle in showing their emotional responses. 

The girl is particularly amazing in that scene where she repeats without faltering a rant she heard a few days ago about apples growing near the shithouse. 

This may not turn out to be a classic western but it is surely worth your while.