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The Old Way - What We Know So Far

Let's try a simple formula: Nicolas Cage plus Western equals...?

This is Hollywood, so the answer the decision-makers are looking for is obviously "money." But to get that, they'll have to pique the interest of audiences, and they're hoping the combination of performer and genre listed above will do that. Because, strangely, it's a unique combination, at least for now. In all of his more than 100 credits, Cage has never played a real cowboy before, not in a proper, boots-and-hat-type Western at least. Not until now, when he brings his inimitable blend of manic energy and grizzled world-weariness to the classic frontier in "The Old Way," which, like many recent Cage pictures, sees him embarking on a quest for vengeance after he's been wronged.  

"The Old Way" is set to be directed by Brett Donowho, who last made the Bruce Willis/Cole Hauser action thriller "Acts of Violence" in 2018. Here's everything we know about it so far. 

What is the plot of The Old Way?

"The Old Way" is a Western revenge tale. Cage will play Colton Briggs, a former gunslinger who has retired into a more peaceful life. He takes care of his family. He runs a store in some Western outpost or another. He's finished with the life of a gunslinger, or so he thinks.

What calls him back to his old ways is the murder of his wife by a gang of outlaws when he's not there. It's unclear from the description whether the crime is perpetrated by someone Briggs knew in his previous life or if they picked the absolute wrong person to be randomly cruel to, but the crime knocks Briggs out of his equilibrium and sends him on a quest for revenge. That's not before he recruits some help in the form of his own preteen daughter. Donowho promises it will be a "compelling story of a father and daughter and their emotional journey of discovery," via Deadline.

Who is in the cast of The Old Way?

Right now, it's just Cage, fresh off his widely-praised turn in 2021's "Pig." It's clear that the selling point is meant to be that this will be the actor's first time in a real Western. "After 43 years in cinema, I'm only now being invited to the important and storied genre of the Western," Cage said, as quoted by The Hollywood Reporter. "Being born and raised in the West, this is another good match and long overdue."

While he may have never been a proper cowboy, Cage has appeared in plenty of films that might be classified as modern Westerns. "Red Rock West's" tale of a drifter coming to town; "Raising Arizona" with its cops and robbers and apocalyptic bounty hunters; heck, you could even argue that "Con Air" qualifies. (Imagine it happens on a train instead of a plane — if that helps.)

Presumably, we'll get more information on the other parts soon. First and foremost is the daughter character, who certainly sounds like a spiritual successor to Kim Darby and Hailee Steinfeld's portrayals of Mattie Ross in the different versions of "True Grit." Somebody will have to play the wife who gets fridged in the film's first act. The bandits will presumably have a leader, someone to fill the role as the bandit leader like Gian Maria Volonté in "For A Few Dollars More," for Briggs to face off with. 

When is The Old Way going to be released?

"The Old Way" has yet to go into production, so an exact release date has yet to be announced. First, production company Capstone Pictures is taking the package it has assembled to the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival in the hopes of finding a partner to buy and help distribute the film. If it finds a buyer there, we may have more information soon.

If "The Old Way" hopes to remain Cage's first-ever Western, it will need to come out soon. Cage's schedule, busy as ever, currently has him set to make his second Western, "Butcher's Crossing," immediately after "The Old Way," filming both projects back-to-back in Montana. "Butcher's Crossing," based on a novel by John Williams (not that one), will see Cage play an experienced buffalo hunter who takes a young Harvard dropout under his wing and guides him through the adventures of the hunt and his encounters with the untamed wilderness. But is the untamed wilderness ready for two consecutive encounters with Nicolas Cage?