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Starring: Nicolas Cage, Sofia Boutella, Nick Cassavetes, Ed Skrein, Bill Moseley, Yuzuka Nakaya, Tak Sakaguchi
OUR RATING: ★★☆☆☆
Post apocalyptic action thriller directed by Sion Sono. Prisoners of the Ghostland (2021) is set in the treacherous frontier city of Samurai Town, where a notorious criminal, Hero (Nicolas Cage), is sprung from jail by wealthy warlord, The Governor (Bill Moseley), whose adopted granddaughter, Bernice (Sofia Boutella), has gone missing. The Governor offers Hero his freedom in exchange for retrieving Bernice. Strapped into a leather suit that will self-destruct within five days, Hero sets off on a journey to find the young woman and his own path to redemption.
Chimera: Bernice, what are we going to do?
Bernice: Whatever we want to do.
Nancy: We’ve never been outside our house before. Are we free? Is this what it feels like?
Bernice: I think it feels much better than that.
Bernice: I’m not a prisoner!
The Governor: Don’t mess my white shoes up!
The Governor: [referring to Hero] Is this him?
Sheriff Takato: Yes, sir, Governor.
The Governor: He’s a mean looking cuss, ain’t he?
The Governor: [to Hero] They say you’re a veritable phantasm, that you have slipped through the firm grasp of the law more than any other man on God’s great earth. They also say you’re the one who robbed the Bleufeur National Bank in P29, killing, among others, three tellers, two security guards, a retired Navy colonel, his mother, and a small boy, whose only crime was masticating a sweet cheery cherry gumball.
The Governor: [to Hero] I have a fondness for black leather. I tell you truly, sir, my granddaughter, my sweet sugar pie, I would have her returned to me. I would have her returned to me posthaste. And you, sir. You, sir, I am told, are the man to do the job.
The Governor: [to Hero, referring to the leather suit] My, my! Don’t that fit nice and snug.
The Governor: [to Hero] Just beyond the point, where we now stand, lies a stretch of highway where evil reigns.
The Governor: I know many who subscribe to that supernatural mumbo jumbo. Ghosts, perhaps. Or, maybe, it’s a bunch of godless sodomites that have taken the land prisoner. I fear my sweet Bernice has fallen into their perverse lair.
Hero: [as he looks at a photo of Bernice] I can see why you want her back.
The Governor: [to Hero, referring to the suit] It’s a remarkable device, isn’t it? Let me point out some of its finer qualities. Each arm is equipped with an explosive device. Oh, it’s a protective measure. These devices are connected to a neuro sensor, which can recognize the impulse of a man intending to strike a helpless woman. Should that impulse be detected, an alarm will sound and if unheeded, detonation will occur. Your trousers are also equipped with explosives. The one at each testicule.
The Governor: [to Hero] I would have my Bernice returned to me unsoiled, sir, so best mind your manners. Oh, now, I’m sure you’ve noticed the charges around your throat. You attempt to remove, or alter in any way this magnificent wardrobe, well, I think you get the idea, sir. If you can crawl your dog’s hide into the unknown and the unholy, rescue my Bernice, return her to me unscathed to this very spot, you will walk away a free man.
Hero: [referring to the device attached to the arm of his jacket] What is this?
The Governor: Each bulb on that colorful display indicates the passing of twenty-four hours. At the conclusion of three days, Bernice must speak her name into the spectrograms microphone. It is programmed to identify her lovely voice. Once voiceprint recognition has been achieved, the device will reward you with two extra days to complete your task. At the end of five days, if you have not returned with Bernice to get your suit unlocked, and removed, the explosives will detonate all at once. I am certain this will prompt a speedy execution of your task. You got me, son?
Hero: What are you going to unlock it with?
The Governor: [holds up the key around his neck] Why, right here. Godspeed. Any God can bear to look upon your face.
The Governor: [as Hero rides away on the bicycle instead of the car] Wait! You cheap villainous maggot!
Deputy: What a bada**.
Jay: He’s so cool.
Hero: No! I’ll karate chop you!
Enoch: [to Hero] All is in pain. You must surrender to fate. You have wandered off your path and stumbled into unknown danger. You were fortunate the Ratman and his rat clan found you along the highway and brought you to the Ghostland. Perhaps you should offer him gratitude.
Hero: You know something? You people are all f***ing nuts.
Enoch: What brings you to our land?
Hero: Who wants to know?
Enoch: I am Enoch, leader of our tribe. Who are you?
Hero: Nobody. Just a guy looking for a girl. Soon as I find her, I’m out of here.
Enoch: This is the Ghostland, my friend. The land of no escape, only endurance and survival.
Enoch: [referring to Bernice] We are not the ones who hold her captive.
Hero: [referring to Bernice] What’s wrong with you? Talk!
Enoch: She cannot. That power has been taken from her. This prison has taken something from us all. Our voice. Our hope. Our courage. From these innocent children, the demon has taken the most. Shaken them with such terrible horror. The children, they lose all will to live. She must reclaim it herself. If she is to survive.
Hero: [to Bernice] Your grandpa sent me to get you! Now it’s time to go the f*** home!
Hero: [to Bernice] We’ll have you singing karaoke in no time.
Ratman: Power! It has a lot of power! I’ve been working on my truck. They hear an engine. They hear anything with an engine. They say an engine attracts the demon.
Hero: Is that so? Cool. Cool.
Hero: Say your name, Bernice! Say your f***ing name, or tomorrow, we’ll explode!
Hero: [to Bernice] Well, that’s quite a scar you got there. You get that roller skating?
Hero: Did you take your medication?!
Psycho: Did you take yours?!
[after realizing he was the cause of her mother’s death and being shot in the leg]
Hero: Bernice. It was me. I’m the one. I’m sorry.
Hero: How do I get out of here?
Women: [in Japanese] You found Bernice. The innocent soul. Gave her a chance. You are a hero.
The Governor: Bring me America.
Sheriff Takato: Governor?
The Governor: Do you understand anything?
Enoch: Your voice. How did you manage to reclaim it?
Bernice: Those things! They came out of nowhere.
Enoch: They cut anything on that highway. No one escapes the Ghostlands. You hear?! No one!