SYNOPSIS: Ethan Hawke stars as Paul, a lone drifter who wanders into the forgotten town of Denton, Texas – dubbed by locals as the "valley of violence." There, he picks a fight with the wrong man, Gilly (James Ransone), the troublemaking son of the town's unforgiving marshal (John Travolta, Pulp Fiction). As tensions arise between Paul and Gilly, an inevitable act of violence starts a disastrous chain reaction that quickly drags the whole town into the bloody crosshairs of revenge. Only the world-weary marshal struggles to stop the violent hysteria, but after a gruesome discovery about Paul's past…there's no stopping the escalation.
If there’s ever a western version of John Wick, then it will be In A Valley of Violence.
A man walks into a bar. He incurs the wrath of the local Deputy. Subsequently, his beloved dog is killed and the man himself is thrown off the cliff by the Deputy and his henchmen. The man survives and he vows to revenge the death of his dog, Abbie. Seriously this is not a bar joke but the entire premise of In A Valley of Violence.
Directed, edited and written by Ti West (know for his slew of indie horrors until now), he joins Quentin Tarantino in paying homage to the good old days of Spaghetti Western. The movie has everything you expect from a Western from a mysterious drifter to a dangerous town populated by assholes who are out looking for a fight. This is the kind of old school western that is tailored for fans of John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. By old school, it means it’s going to take a while before the obligatory wham-bam showdown.
Ethan Hawke plays Paul the drifter, presumably an army deserter from the Civil War, there are slight hints on it but you never get the full picture. Together with his loyal dog companion, he is on his way to Mexico and Denton, the sinful place is where he refills his water supply. Unfortunately, this is also the place where he gets into trouble with Deputy Gilly (James Ransoe). On a side note, Hawke’s character is pretty similar to the one he plays in The Magnificent Seven, this could very well be a prequel to his character.
Another big star John Travolta who in recent years is busy dabbling in DTV duds puts in a commending performance as Gilly’s dad, Marshall Clyde, the doting father figure who is exasperated by the actions of his wayward son. Taissa Farmiga (younger sister of Vera) portrays 16-year-old Mary-Ann who runs the town hotel with her sister, Ellen (Karen Gillan from the Guardians of the Galaxy series).
Making full use of the limited space, vast landscape and the makeshift constructed buildings, the cinematography on the whole is excellent. What gave it away that this is a Jason Blum’s micro-budget production is the absence of extras in the background given the town is ridiculously populated only by a handful of characters.
In A Valley of Violence is not a trigger-happy movie for action fans and despite the promised showdown; it’s very much uneventful for the first half of the running time. However as a fan of the Western genre, I highy recommend this as a companion piece to Antoine Fuqua’s The Magnificent Seven.
Behind the Scenes of In a Valley of Violence offers a quick 2 minutes look to the plot.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 provides clear dialogue and during the climatic showdown, a series of loud surround gun effects. Shot on film, the intended dusty look is replicated faithfully on DVD with nice image detailing.
DVD RATING :
Review by Linus Tee