This thriller has a fun premise, but it feels both too lazy and too serious; rather than really playing with the concept, the film does little more than let loose-cannon Cage carry the load. Primal has all the elements for a cool movie: various exotic animals, a clever killer, a scoundrel-like antihero, and an appealing leading lady, all trapped together in a perfect, enclosed setting. If a filmmaker had approached it with a sly, coy touch or a sharper sense of rhythm, it could have been wildly entertaining. But director Nick Powell -- a former stuntman with one other movie, the atrocious, sluggish Outcast, on his resume -- doesn't do that.
The movie starts with Cage dialed all the way up to 11; he's so amped up that he doesn't even seem to be in the same room with the other actors. His special brand of quirkiness can often save a movie, but it has to be used correctly, and in Primal, it's not. Then, the jittery, twitchy filmmaking manages to deaden any sense of rhythm or suspense. And poor Janssen doesn't have much more to do than get kidnapped and tied up. At least Durand seems to be having fun, sneering and bluffing his way through his villainous role. And there are some wonderful animals to look at. But overall, Primal is a wasted opportunity.