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Film / Primal

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"You kill my cat, I'll blow your head off."
"The man that we're looking for is a mercenary assassin. A professional killer. He's armed and he's the most dangerous son of a bitch you'll ever get this close to."
John Ringer

Primal is a 2019 Action Thriller film directed by Nick Powell and starring Nicolas Cage, Famke Janssen, Kevin Durand, LaMonica Garrett, and Michael Imperioli. The film was shot in Puerto Rico and released in the United States on November 8, 2019.

Frank Walsh is a skilled big-game hunter specializing in rare and dangerous species. He has recently caught an extremely rare white jaguar in the rain forests of Brazil and now expects to sell it to a zoo for a fortune. Frank books a ship to deliver the jaguar along with other animals to the U.S. However, authorities also need the ship to transport a notorious killer who must be brought to trial, and who, for medical reasons, cannot be transported by plane. On the way to the U.S., the criminal frees himself and releases dangerous animals and venomous snakes.

Not to be confused with video game, animated series (wich was also released in 2019), or 2010 Australian horror film with which it shares its title.

Primal contains examples of:

  • Animal Assassin: When he goes to kill Frank, Loffler leaves behind a bushmaster to kill the Bound and Gagged Ellen and Rafi.
  • Bald of Authority: Supervising Marshal John Ringer, played by LaMont Garrett, is the black bald leader of an elite U.S. Marshal team, escorting an extremely high-risk prisoner back to the U.S. He has a 'take no shit' attitude and immediately clashes with Great White Hunter Frank Walsh; a civilian who refuses to respect his authority.
  • Bits of Me Keep Passing Out: During the final showdown, Frank shoots Loffler multiple times with curare coated darts. As the fight goes on, Loffler finds that he he is losing feeling in various parts of his body and losing control of them.
  • Blow Gun: Frank uses a blowgun and darts dipped in curare to recapture the escaped monkeys. He later uses it in his final showdown against Loffler.
  • Book Ends: The film begins and ends with prey hanging from a rope, intended to be food for the white jaguar. Firstly, a rotting antelope is the target, with Frank playing witness to the jaguar eating it. Later on, he hangs Loffler in the same manner, and leaves him to be eaten (While conscious).
  • Boom, Headshot!: Loffler makes almost of his kills via headshot so as to bypass the Bullet Proof Vests the US Marshals are wearing.
  • Bring It Back Alive: Frank specialises in capturing exotic animals for zoos. The opening scenes of the movie are Frank stalking and capturing a 400 lb white jaguar.
  • Bound and Gagged: After taking Rafi and Ellen hostage, Loffler keeps them gagged and tied to the pipework in the engine room.
  • The Cabin Boy: A modern day version. Rafi is the son of Captain Morales and is travelling with him on the Mimer. He works in the galley helping the cook. He assists Frank in the hunt for both Loffler and the animals, and refuses to abandon ship with the rest of the crew.
  • Cat Scare: Or 'monkey scare' in this case. As Ellen is searching the lower decks for Loffler, she is startled when one of the escaped monkeys screeches and slams itself against the door of the galley.
  • Caught in a Snare: Frank rigs up a snare that he uses to trap Loffel during their final battle in the hold.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A Chekhov's Blowgun in this case, with Frank using the Blow Gun and curare darts he used to capture the monkeys against Loffler in the final showdown.
  • Closest Thing We Got: Dr. Ellen Taylor is a medical practitioner, but she is a neurologist. As the only medical personnel on the ship, she ends up dealing with all of the injuries sustained. She certainly remembers enough of her basic training to deal with gunshot wounds and animals bites, but where she is really out of her depth is when Morales is bitten by a bushmaster, as it is unlikely she has ever had to deal with snakebite, even during her residency.
  • "Die Hard" on an X: Die Hard on a cargo ship with a bunch of escaped wild animals.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Loffler steals a jacket and cap from a dead U.S. Marshal, and uses it to pose as one and extract information from the engineer.
  • Enemy Mine: Initially both Loffler and the jaguar escape and pose a threat to Frank and the crew. However, when Frank manages to shoot Loffler with a dart and catches him in a trap, he turns the jaguar loose and lets her deal with the assassin and in return for her help decides to send her to a sanctuary.
  • Fingore: Loffler fakes a seizure and when one of the marshals comes to check on him, he bites down hard on the marshal's fingers: drawing blood and refusing to let go.
  • From Dress to Dressing: After being shot in the leg, Frank tears a strip off his shirt and uses it to bind his thigh.
  • Great White Feline: One of the main antagonists is a 400 lb. white jaguar let loose below decks. It intervenes at several crucial moments during the film. Frank is determined to Bring It Back Alive because it is worth a fortune.
  • Great White Hunter: Frank Walsh is a skilled big-game hunter specializing in capturing rare and dangerous species for zoos.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: When Loffler releases a number of wild animals (including the jaguar) to cause a distraction, this ends up literally coming back to bite him when Frank manages to catch him in a trap and leaves him hanging helpless to be eaten by the big cat.
  • Instant Sedation: When Frank Welsh shoots the jaguar with a Tranquillizer Dart, it passes out a second later.
  • Interrogation by Vandalism: Loffler demands Frank tell him where he has hidden the navigation map, and starts shooting Frank's parrots one by one: threatening to move on to kill Rafi when he runs out of parrots.
  • Just Desserts: Loffler is a political assassin who also killed multiple innocent people and animals on the ship who ends up being shot with a tranquilizer dart and left suspended in one of Frank’s traps who then lets loose the jaguar to eat him alive.
  • Maniac Monkeys: The cook is killed by the pack of monkeys that have taken over his galley after he grabs one of the babies, despite Frank's warning not to.
  • Mexican Standoff: A three-way one with four participants. Loffler is holding a gun to Ellen's head. Frank is aiming an arrow at Loffler's chest. Freed is pointing a gun at Frank's back. If anyone fires, they're likely to kill at least two people as various weapons go off.
  • One-Word Title
  • Panthera Awesome: One of the main antagonists is a 400 lb white jaguar let loose below decks. It intervenes at several crucial moments during the film.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Loffel slams Frank repeatedly with the butt and barrel of his rifle during their fight in the deck house.
  • The Radio Dies First: The first thing Loffler does after escaping is to kill the ship's radio operator, destroy the radio, and steal the backup handset to prevent the ship from calling for help.
  • Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: The surviving crew steal one of the lifeboats and abandon ship.
  • Shipped in Shackles: Richard Loffler arrives at the ship shackled hand and foot. On board the ship, he is locked in a cage in the hold, and chained to a chair that is welded to the floor.
  • Sick Captive Scam: Richard Loffler fakes a seizure in order to lure his guards into his cell. Justified in that his fake seizure is very convincing, and he is being Shipped in Shackles so they have no choice but to send at least one guard into the cell to ensure he does not injure himself.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: When Loffler releases Walsh's animals after he escapes, the thing that most worries the passengers and crew—after the 400 lb jaguar—is the two bushmaster snakes. The crew point out that a ship has countless small spaces they could hide in, and Walsh says they will head for the warmest, moistest pace on the ship: the engine room. Later, Captain Morales gets bitten on the leg in the engine room.
  • Sniping the Cockpit: Loffeler kills the two marshals manning the bridge of the ship by making a Boom, Headshot! on each of them from the prow of the ship. He then trashes the bridge to render the ship unsteerable.
  • Surgeons Can Do Autopsies If They Want: Dr. Ellen Taylor is a neurologist who has to treat Morales who has been bitten by a bushmaster, which is properly a job for an emergency physician or a toxicologist. Justified as she is the only person on the ship with any medical training. It is also obvious that she has very little idea how to treat an exotic snakebite and has to ask the Great White Hunter for advice.
  • Tranquilizer Dart: Frank Walsh uses a dart fired from a tranquilizer gun to knock out the jaguar in the jungle and capture it. He later takes the tranquilizer gun when he is hunting both Loffler and the escaped jaguar on board the Mimer. It is much less successful on these occasions.
  • Trap Master: Frank specialises in capturing live animals and uses his expertise in traps to level the playing field in his battle against black ops operative Loffler.
  • Uniqueness Value: Frank Walsh captures an extremely rare (and valuable) white jaguar which he plans to sell to a zoo for a huge profit.
  • U.S. Marshal: A team of U.S. Marshals are sent to escort Richard Loffler back to the U.S. to stand trial. None of them survive the assignment.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: After escaping confinement, Loffler performs several acts of sabotage on the Mimer. He trashes the bridge to destroy the primary steering system, and later sabotages the engines to leave the ship dead in the water.
  • Wrench Whack: During the fight in the engine room, the assistant engineer Jerome attempts to clobber Loffler with a huge monkey wrench.

"You might just be a good man after all."