Director: Ti West
Writer: Ti West
Stars: Ethan Hawke, John Travolta, Taissa Farmiga
Plot: A mysterious stranger and a random act of violence drag a town of misfits and nitwits into the bloody crosshairs of revenge.
Running time: 1 hour 44 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 76% Audience 52%
Why I watched it: Mostly the cast and I do love westerns and we get very few nowadays.
Thoughts: First off this is John Wick as a western, say what you want, you can say this was written first, I don’t think it was, but this is John Wick through and through, a man trying to put his past behind him, a bunch of thugs kill his dog and leave him and then we also have the main thug is the son of a bigger more wise thug.
What I like: Ethan Hawke is one of my favourite actors working today, he shows up every movie, lead, supporting, big budget, low budget plus he’s good in genre. Here is not great but he’s a presence, he’s a thinking man’s actor you see his watching and being true to his character. For me Travolta gives the best performance of the film, he’s not over the top and there’s a sparkle of the old Travolta, he’s good here cause he’s smart and he’s trying to avoid unnecessary trouble. The film i shot well and I like the setting of this small town in the middle of nowhere, the sets are old school and are a nice throw back.
What I didn’t like: Ti West is mostly known as a horror director and here he branches out to westerns and I will say I’ve seen four of his films now and haven’t liked one of them, now I have nothing against him but his style bothers me and he he’s director, writer and editor and there’s three things that bug me about this film that I will put at his feet. the first one is the tone, sure I get it he’s trying to do a spaghetti western but there’s a couple of different styles in that sub-genre there’s the Man With No Name that intense and very violent and then there’s the goofier ones that rely more on comedy and a bit of a lighter tone here West tries to combo them both and it flat out doesn’t work, there’s nothing funny here but the characters go off and it feels like it’s another movie tone wise.
The second thing is that he has characters give there life stories when they speak I’ll give you an example and this happens about four times in this movie “sure I’m the Marshall and I have to do what needs to be done, sure he’s my son and he’s not too bright but he’s my son and he does things then I have to clean up after him.” Then Taissa Farmiga tells us everything we need to know about her the first time she’s on screen. The last thing is really Ti West’s fault as a director and editor scenes run too long, characters say the same thing over and over again, tension is milked to nothing by the end.
I will also add Gillian and Ransome give bad performances here, I like both actors but here not good and Ransome seems lost as his character bounces between different movies and he goes on and on and goes so over the top you begin to wonder if this is a comedy.
Now I liked the revenge story and I like the Travolta character being the voice of reason but the end is beyond silly, and Hawke’s character isn’t bad ass enough for this to work. The violence is boring here if you want to give homage to the great Spaghetti Westerns then at least shoot it with flare and be vivid on the screen.
Final thoughts: There were stuff to like here, and it’s not a total wash but the film is so untidy and such a mix bag with tone that it left me being annoyed with it.