Rating: 3 out of 5.

The saga of Nicolas Cage and his bottomless filmography continues in its newest edition, titled The Old Way. Joined by American Horror Story: Red Tide standout Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Cage does a surprisingly great job as a grizzled father on a course for revenge. I have to admit that I absolutely abhor the western genre nearly altogether; as such, sitting down to watch The Old Way didn’t exactly fill me with excitement. To my surprise, The Old Way is a competent Western that hits all the cliches one expects from the genre, and the acting is quite good. I have no desire to revisit it anytime soon, yet for fans of this genre, here is a film that’s easy to love.

Retired gunslinger Colton Briggs (Cage) is now a hardened family man and store owner. One day while his wife Ruth (Kerry Knuppe) is hanging the laundry, Briggs is forced to walk his sweet, curious daughter Brooke (Armstrong) to school. However, classes are cancelled, so instead Brooke comes along for a father/daughter day of bonding. Unbeknownst to both of them, by the time they return home, they could be too late to save Ruth. A ghost from Colton’s past is looming—twenty years is a hell of a long time to build up one’s taste for vengeance.

A gang of outlaws may be no match for Briggs and his resourceful daughter, Brooke. However, don’t expect The Old Way to be John Wick in the old West. There are a number of shootouts and just enough violence for the average moviegoer, but the brutality is never the focus here. The Old Way relies instead on strength in character, and in particular that father/daughter connection. The duo depart together to follow those vagrants on the run—their team-up is what eventually warmed me to the film. Brooke is fascinating as her father begins to assess how her approach to emotions and her cold nature is not dissimilar to his own.

At the end of the day, The Old Way is still a typical western through and through. Lengthy fireside chats, action-packed shootouts, and trekking across beautiful-looking locales are this movie’s bread and butter. Brushing all of this aside, screenwriter Carl W. Lucas makes some interesting commentary on the damage the dead leave behind, one’s legacy, and how to find a way to continue living in the midst of terrible pain. Cage and Armstrong are certainly up to the task—without this combo at its core, The Old Way would fade into obscurity next to that pile of other failed modern Westerns.

Prepare to embrace The Old Way when it rides into theaters on Friday, January 6th, followed by Premium Video On Demand and Digital on January 13th.

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