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This Nicolas Cage Western Tricked Audiences With Its Cold Open

This Nicolas Cage Western Tricked Audiences With Its Cold Open


  • Nicolas Cage disappears early on in “Outcast” after a promising opening sequence, leaving fans feeling misled.
  • Cage’s brief and critically panned performance in the movie highlights the casting deception that occurred.
  • “Outcast” tricks audiences with Cage’s top billing, only to deliver a disappointing and forgettable action epic.



Few actors are as unpredictable as Nicolas Cage, the immensely talented Oscar-winning actor known for going way over the top in some performances. Fans never know what they’re getting when Cage appears onscreen, be it a committed and grounded turn like Pig and Dream Scenario or a flagrantly histrionic outing like Mandy or Vampire’s Kiss. However, fans rarely enter a Nicolas Cage movie expecting his character to vanish in the first few minutes.

Yet that’s precisely what occurs in Outcast, a Chinese action-western released in 2015 starring Hayden Christensen. Despite taking top billing, Nicolas Cage appears in the fiery opening battle sequence, only to abandon the movie for the duration. Between the movie’s poster, trailer, and introduction, fans were tricked into believing a Nicolas Cage movie would unspool before their eyes. Alas, following a glorified cameo, Cage takes off and leaves the heavy lifting to Christen and his international costars. The whole sequence is so bizarre that it bears closer inspection.



Release Date
September 26, 2014

Nick Powell


James Dormer

3 What Is Outcast About?

Gallain holds a sword in Outcast
Entertainment One

Directed by first-time filmmaker Nick Powell from a script by James Dormer, Outcast is a period action film with overt Western film tropes. The story begins during the Crusades when a young warrior named Jacob guides an army in a massacre in a Middle Eastern city. Jacob’s brother Gallain (Cage) is a member of his army but resists the mission, claiming it’s against God’s will. Jacob ignores his brother’s words and lashes out with intense violence on the battlefield.

Three years later, the story shifts focus to the Song Dynasty, where Prince Zhao is chosen to succeed the Emperor. Zhao’s envious brother, Prince Shing, murders their father and assumes control of the dynasty and its Black Guard enforcers. Zhao and his older sister Lian meet Jacob in an opium den, who eventually vows to protect them against Shing and the Black Guard. En route to Jingshao, Jacob becomes injured, and the siblings are captured.

Jacob awakes to find his brother Gallain has rescued them. Jacob explains to Gallain that he did not kill innocent women and children in the Crusades as he had warned, and finds his brother’s forgiveness. Moments later, Gallain is slain in battle. Lian defeats Shing in a sword duel after the Prince stabs Lian. After killing Shing, Jacob escorts Lian and Zhao to the city with the Black Guard, who now recognizes Zhao as the King. The Chinese action movie ends with Jacob leaving Lian and burying his brother Gallain.

2 What Happens in the Opening Sequence?

Gallain and Jacob walk with swords in Outcast
Entertainment One

Given Nicolas Cage’s top billing, prominence in the poster and trailer, and presence in the opening scene of Outcast, fans rightly expected the actor to remain in the movie. Yet, following the tantalizing opening battle sequence, in which Gallain assists Jacob in fending off enemies, Cage rapidly disappears. Gallain becomes so incensed about Jacob’s refusal to follow his orders that he abandons his brother on the battlefield. While Gallain still loves his brother, he cannot bear witness to the violent atrocities Jacob is willing to perform.

More frustrating yet, Cage disappears less than nine minutes into the pre-title cold open. The introductory action scene promises a hyper-violent Cage movie, only for the actor to vanish before the opening credits appear onscreen. The tease continues until the final act over one hour later, when Gallain finally reemerges as a figure known as The White Ghost.


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Cage’s brief return is even shorter than his quick intro, and before viewers know it, Gallain is slain during battle with the Black Guard. Gallain’s return is meant to mark a spiritual turning point for Jacob, who finally realizes his brother was right all along. Despite the motivations for Gallain’s return, Cage earns far more credit than he deserves in what is essentially a glorified cameo appearance.

1 How Outcast Tricks the Audience

Gallain screams in agony in Outcast
Entertainment One

It’s one thing to promise a Nicolas Cage performance and cut it short. It’s quite another to promise a good Nicolas Cage performance and deliver anything but. Outcast pulled a fast one on viewers by marketing the movie on the back of Cage, but Cage himself didn’t do fans any favors with his critically panned performance. Outcast holds an unfathomable 4% Rotten Tomatoes Score, with many critics taking issue with Cage’s bad (if brief) performance.

For example, film critic Glenn Kenny directed his ire at Cage’s decision-making, calling his work in Outcast a part of his “genuinely befuddling and perhaps sad phase.” The L.A. Times took aim at Cage’s physical appearance, noting how his “warrior coif” was “perhaps his most unflattering movie hairdo yet — and that’s saying a lot.” Screen Anarchy’s Sabastian Zavala made the most salient point, stating that the movie, “Could certainly have been a better vehicle for an unleashed, energetic Cage”, yet “what we end up with is a lifeless, slightly-entertaining-yet-ultimately-disappointing action epic.”


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Outcast’s casting duplicity is twofold. Nicolas Cage abruptly vanishes before the pre-title sequence ends, despite his character being promoted in the marketing. When Cage does appear and briefly reappear, he delivers one of his trademark uneven performances that makes fans wonder why he was cast in the first place. The only thing more teasing than Cage’s role in Outcast is the notion that a sequel was in the works (via Variety). Yet, just as quickly as Cage disappeared from the original, Outcast 2 also vanished into thin air.

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