Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tuesday's Overlooked Movie: Bone Tomahawk

I was predisposed to like BONE TOMAHAWK because a. it’s a Western, and b. it was written and directed by S. Craig Zahler, Western novelist, Western pulp fan, occasional commenter on this blog, and probably the only filmmaker in the business who has expressed a fondness for the work of Ray Nafziger—or who knows who Ray Nafziger was! I was a little concerned because I’d read that it was extremely violent, and so it is, in three or four scenes, but this movie is a lot more than that.

In some ways BONE TOMAHAWK is a classic traditional Western: four men set out in pursuit of a band of Indians who have kidnapped several people from a settlement. This small posse is led by the local sheriff (Kurt Russell) and includes one of his deputies (the great character actor Richard Jenkins), a dandified but dangerous gunman (Matthew Fox), and the cowboy (Patrick Wilson) who’s married to one of the kidnap victims. The grizzled deputy known as Chicory is a wonderful character, pure Western pulp in some ways but with more depth than many pulp characters, and the others are interesting characters, too. We get to know them pretty well, because most of the movie is spent following their pursuit of the Indians.

Those Indians are not typical Western movie antagonists, though, and that’s where BONE TOMAHAWK’s more horrific elements come in. They’re cave-dwelling, cannibalistic savages feared and despised by the other tribes in the area. They’re pretty creepy, too, and some of the things they do are where the graphic violence comes in. It’s well-staged, though, as are the more traditional action scenes.

Mostly, though, BONE TOMAHAWK is a movie full of fine acting, great dialogue and photography, and a surprising amount of humor in spite of its reputation for being grim and unrelenting. Some people have complained that the pace is slow, but I didn’t really find that to be the case because I was enjoying the characters and what they were saying and doing.

I’d love to see Zahler try his hand at a more traditional Western, but that may not be what he’s interested in doing. Whatever it is, though, I’ll definitely be watching because I was really impressed with BONE TOMAHAWK.


August West said...

I saw the movie with my Amazon Prime membership and really liked it. You are right about the fine acting performances. It's so good that I may watch it again this weekend.

Estrada said...

You know you have a good western when there are no shouting dialogue. Just quiet discussion about mundane topics to pass the time away before sleeping catches up with you.

Charles Gramlich said...

I want to see this. It sure did come and go quickly it seems.

Oklahoma City car accident lawyer said...

Really, really good. From the period dialog to the gruesome deaths this film delivers. I've never seen Matthew Fox better than the character he portrays here. Stellar. I'm no lightweight, but there is one seen that gave me nightmares. I'm 52 and have not been more creeped out since I saw The Exorcist in 1977.