The Old Way (2023) Movie: Nicolas Cage has been an actor for four decades now and has played every kind of role imaginable roles, varying in depth, range, and frankly, silliness as well. He has appeared in films that have become favorites of “bad movie” fans. But then there are films like Adaptation, Face/Off, and Mandy that truly showcase his abilities as an actor and force one to recognize him as one of the greats of the film industry.
His latest film, The Old Way, places him in the shoes of a gunslinger in a classic western story. Westerns have been around since man realized that he could use a camera to record moving images. Alas, the genre has seen better days, whether it’s the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s in Hollywood, otherwise known as ‘The Golden Age of the Western’. Or the ’60s Spaghetti Westerns of Italy or even the attempts to revitalize the genre in the 90’s with films such as Unforgiven (1992), Tombstone (1993), Wyatt Earp (1994), etc. Nevertheless, it seems the western has been all but dead for a good couple of decades now, with few exceptions that almost never get recognition or fame.
The Old Way, directed by Brett Donowho and written by Carl W. Lucas, is certainly not the western that will rejuvenate the genre. What it is, however, is a formulaic rendition of the genre’s essential elements. Nothing new and certainly nothing revolutionary, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad film by any means.
Even while bringing nothing new to the table, and even with performances that could only be dubbed mediocre, the film still somehow manages to offer an entertaining hour and a half, that is, if one is in the mood for something not too challenging, a movie to pass the time. Maybe I am being overly harsh on the movie, but if the western as a genre is ever going to see the light of day and glory ever again, it definitely needs more than this.
The Old Way (2023) Movie Synopsis and Plot Summary:
Old Way opens with a scene of a hanging, a rope is hung around a man’s neck as he awaits the sheriff to end his speech before he is sentenced to die. The latter speaks of all the wrong things the man has done and speaks to the man’s son who watches in fear about all the theft that his father has supposedly done. Eventually, the man only asks his son to leave so he wouldn’t have to watch him get hung.
Soon, the scene erupts into a gunfight as some men attempt to save his life, and the focus of the fight is on one man who doesn’t miss a single shot and survives the fight unharmed in the middle of almost a dozen corpses. The man is saved from the rope but attempts to shoot the skilled gunman, but the latter put a bullet through him as his son watches in horror. That gunman is revealed to be Colton Briggs (Nicolas Cage), a most feared gunslinger.
The next scene is set years after that incident. Colton Briggs now has a wife and a daughter and lives a seemingly quiet life, he is in a field with his wife praising her before he walks his daughter (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) to a convenience store he runs and spends the day attending to his business while his daughter sits and reads.
Back at home, Colton’s wife receives some unwelcome visitors who reveal that they are after her husband. While she threatens them not to hurt her because that would “awake the devil inside her husband,” the gang’s leader seems determined even with her threats and the advice of some of his gang mates who know the name, Colton Briggs. He returns home with his daughter to find the sheriff with some of his officers inside his house.
The sheriff doesn’t recognize him at first. But when he does, he is surprised that the famous Colton Briggs is living such a peaceful life after years and years of murder, and he tells him the bad news: those strange men have murdered his wife and left a message in his barn.
While Briggs is burying his wife, the sheriff tells his daughter of her father’s past, fearing that he would want revenge, and when Briggs asks him to tell him who killed his wife, his fears are confirmed, and he refuses to do so, instead telling him that it’s the law’s job to bring those men to justice.
Colton Briggs sets fire to his house and barn, and alongside his daughter, he rides in the direction of the single hint that he could get from the sheriff. Together they ride until they hear gunshots between the sheriff and the officers and the gang, which leaves the law injured, an opportunity that Colton Briggs and his daughter take to get more information out of them, and once they do, they set after the gang, who are in a town where they hid some money.
Briggs, on the way, talks to his daughter about his past, telling her that he used to kill a lot of men. He further adds that her mother changed him, made a family man out of him, and this fills the daughter with determination to get vengeance for her mother’s death, asking her father to teach her how to use a gun.
The Old Way (2023) Movie Ending, Explained:
Colton Briggs uses his daughter as bait, sending her to the saloon where the gang is to get their sympathy, but they see through the trick and take her hostage to lure him out, which works on him like a charm. He walks through the town and takes out a couple of members of the gang, but he gets shot in the shoulder in the process and has to hide in a house.
While he is hiding, the gang’s leader asks him to do a gun duel, and he walks out of the house to face him at last. He reveals that he is the son of the man he had shot all those years ago, and he tells him that he hasn’t forgotten his face or his deed since he was a child, and now it is his time for revenge.
He gives him a choice between his life and his daughter’s, and Briggs chooses to save both of them, but due to his injury, he fails, and the man shoots him dead. His daughter runs to him, weeping about her father’s death, picks up his gun, and shoots his murderer, killing him instantly. Briggs had shot the man’s son, the son shot him, and now the daughter shot Briggs’ killer, a legacy of murder and revenge is complete.