Director: S. Craig Zahler
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Kurt Russell, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins, Sean Young, David Marquette, Zahn McClarnon, Lili Simmons
Runtime: 2 hrs 13 mins
Rating: R21 (Violence)
Released By: Shaw
Opening Day: 10 December 2015
Synopsis: When a group of cannibal savages kidnaps settlers from the small town of Bright Hope, an unlikely team of gunslingers, led by Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell), sets out to bring them home. But their enemy is more ruthless than anyone could have imagined, putting their mission – and survival itself – in serious jeopardy. Kurt Russell (The Hateful Eight, Tombstone) leads an all-star cast, including Patrick Wilson (Insidious), Matthew Fox (“Lost”) and Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) in this gritty, brutal adventure chronicling a terrifying rescue mission in the Old West.
Before Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight reaches our shores next January, take this Western flick as a teaser for things to come. Both movies star Kurt Russell, the badass we know from Escape from New York(1981) and Escape from LA (1996). The 64 year old veteran has done some impressive work lately, ranging from comedy (2005’s Sky High) to action (2007’s Death Proof). The last we saw Russell earlier this year, he was Mr Nobody in Furious 7 – you have to admit how he maximised his presence with the limited screen time he had in the James Wan directed movie from the Fast and the Furious franchise.
In this action adventure movie, Russell takes on the role of Sheriff Franklin Hunt who leads an unlikely team of gunslingers to bring home a group of unfortunate townsfolk who have been kidnapped by cannibal savages. Set in the Old West, you can expect plenty of scenes showcasing the rough sandy landscapes, with the protagonists donning their cowboy hats and riding their horses in a very suave, very manly fashion.
The crew includes Patrick Wilson (Insidious, The Conjuring) as the family man whose wife has been kidnapped, Matthew Fox (TV’s Lost, World War Z) as the obligatory unlikeable thug and Richard Jenkins (The Visitor, White House Down) as the dependable but forgetful deputy.
First time feature director S Craig Zahler is a novelist himself, having penned stories in several genres, including western, crime and science fiction. This explains why the film is particularly engaging – the old fashioned styled genre production brings viewers on a strange but terrifying journey where one can never guess what’s in store, especially when cannibals are involved. Without giving too much away, you can mentally prepare yourself for some stomach grueling scenes (hence the film’s R21 rating with a ‘”Violence” consumer advice).
The movie may stretch beyond two hours with its 133 minute runtime, but it never becomes lazy by adopting convenient tactics. Every scene seems to be included for a reason, and it sure helps that every cast member delivers strong performances. They allow Zahler (who is also a drummer, lyricist and singer for heavy metal band Realmbuilder) to fully showcase their acting abilities on screen, with the right amount of room for self indulgence to unleash the glorious terror the Old West has in store.
This is not just an action movie – there’re bits of romance, dashes on comedy and the undeniably in your face horror (we are dealing with cannibals, remember?). Yet, you’ll find yourself glued to your seat, eyes fixated on screen as the rescue mission unfolds on screen. The cinematography by Benji Bakshi is a treat for the eyes, and the music composed by Jeff Herriott and Zahler himself is uniquely appropriate for the film.
It is a shame that this movie is on limited release (seems like the case as well in the States), but we have a feeling it is much, much better than the Tarantino headlined Western that will attract more attention, thanks to marketing and publicity budget. Do yourself a favour and catch this exhilaratingly fresh piece of work – leave your expectations at the door and you’d be able to enjoy every moment translated from screenplay into visuals on screen.
(Good ol’ sheer grittiness awaits in this thriller set in the Old West, with a mish mash of genres that will make you sit up and watch)
Review by John Li