Bad accents and other misses

Does anyone remember Val Kilmer at his prime, in movies like “Top Gun” or “Tombstone”? And then you watch him in his more recent works and he just looks tired and bloated?

That’s what watching Nicolas Cage (“National Treasure”) in the American-Canadian-Chinese action film “Outcast” is like. Sad, pathetic and, frankly, a little embarrassing for everyone involved. I’ve brought dishonor upon my family by watching this so-called film.

On the surface, “Outcast” is a redemption story, with Hayden Christiansen (“Star Wars”) moping about in crusades-era China. But I think the director, Nick Powell, was a bit too ambitious and bit off way more than he could chew, seeing as this was his directorial debut.

Christiansen’s character, Jacob, is escorting the Chinese prince Zhao (Bill Su Jiahang), and princess Lian (Liu Yifei) to a fortress so that Zhao can become king. All the way they are chased by Shing (Andy On), who is so one dimensional and transparent he might as well be an evil sheet of plastic.

It’s supposed to be an epic journey, replete with cartoonish evil henchmen that can be defeated with a quick jab and eye-rolling quip. It’s supposed to be this epic East meets West, clash of the titan’s extravaganza of action.

Instead, we get Christiansen being more mopey than he ever was in the “Star Wars” prequels, a feat that I thought would be impossible to top. After killing virtually everyone in the Holy Lands during one of the Crusades, he ends up on an opium bender in China, of all places.

His mentor, Gallain, played by Cage, has also fled to China, all the while doing a worse accent than Keanu Reaves in “Dracula.” It’s almost as if Cage is just phoning his performance in, his face so screwed up like even he can’t believe what’s coming out of his mouth.

Which brings to mind the old adage, tweaked a little bit for movies: acting is like a fart. If you have to force it, it’s probably shit.

Literally everyone in this movie is forcing their lines so hard, I’m surprised nobody burst a blood vessel. At times, the dialogue sounded like an 80s movie villain, trying to be hardcore but failing miserably.

The scenery and action scenes were the only redeemable bits out of this giant turd of a movie. Shot in China, verdant fields and lush forests dominated the screen, while all of the set pieces were beautifully designed and had a real lived-in feel.

And I absolutely loved the fight scenes, despite the fact that they were shot “Jason Bourne” style, with all of the shaky camera shots that entails. The pacing was fast and believable, there weren’t cheesy blood sprays that splattered everything in 20 yards, and if there’s anything Christiansen took away from “Star Wars,” it’s how to duel.

I still couldn’t understand a word that came out of his mouth, or out of Cage’s. I had to rely on subtitles this time because I needed them, not because I like to watch with them on. They both sounded like drunks who were trying to speak with mouthfuls of pudding while trying not to spill any.

Their accents were so bad they made me want to apologize for every other time I’ve criticized an actor because they can’t pull off an accent to save their career. Here’s to looking at you, every American actor that played a Russian character for the last 50 years.

One more small detractor of the film is how there seemed to be the need for a white savior to swoop in, save the day and get the princess. I will say that it was only like that because Christiansen was in the right place at the right time, and not because he was the Chosen One . . . this time.

Overall, I feel like this movie was an attempt to retroactively ruin my childhood through film. “National Treasure” and “Star Wars” were some of my favorite movies as a kid, and this movie made me hate Cage and Christiansen a little bit.

Damn you, “Outcast,” for killing my heroes.