I miss Arnold Schwarzenegger right about now, and so does this movie. Instead we have dour, scrawny Jim Caviezel, come down from the cross, as a spaceman who crashes in eighth-century Norway. The Vikings (led by John Hurt) are a grouchy bunch, and they blame him for a mysterious local massacre until he reveals—reluctantly—the cause for the carnage. A space monster is loose, the red-glowing, whip-tailed embodiment of the visitor's colonial guilt. With an obvious debt to Predator and Beowulf (among others), Outlander is a serious pastiche, straightforwardly told. (Though Caviezel's hazy, interstellar flashbacks play like the intro to some vidgame.) There's a warrior babe (Sophia Myles), a handsome rival (Jack Huston), and even a cameo from Ron Perlman (to the longhouse born). But nary a joke or a wink at the Bronze Age/Space Age incongruity. Caviezel's too polite to mention to his flea-bitten hosts—unlike Schwarzenegger or even Heston in Planet of the Apes—that in the future we have a thing called bathing. (Really, you might try it some time.) The inevitable monster hunt and battles with a rival tribe are reasonably gory, but kids expecting ray-guns and mega-action will be disappointed. Caviezel slowly goes native, keeping his alien technology to himself. Without any Predator-style gadgets of its own, the monster becomes more genuine, even tragic, by sticking to its prehistoric nature. Unlike Caviezel, it refuses to be tamed.
No jet packs for Caviezel.
Opens at Meridian and other theaters, Fri., Jan. 23. Rated R. 115 minutes