I viewed this flick yesterday at home on my Panasonic Plasma (65inch), the best TV for watching a feature film. BONE TOMAHAWK IS is not only a western, but has crossed into the horror genra. My letterboxed review follows: What a film experience.
This western holds together on all fronts. Direction, script, photography, acting, excitement, horror, comedy, grit, love, and tie it up in to a classic western. It will age into greatness as the years pass. Not for everyone as of the graphic gore, one sex scene, and adult subject matter. I have not had a better time viewing a movie since “The Legend of Buster Scruggs” a while back.
The direction by S. Craig Zahler, using fantastic photography by cinematographer Benji Bakshi is of high quality. And S. Craig’s screenplay is top notch. The set pieces are memorable on many levels including the visuals, dialogue, and the various actors involved. Some of the lines that hit home include:
Sheriff Franklin Hunt: Say goodbye to my wife. I’ll say hello to yours
John Brooder: Smart men don’t get married.
John Brooder: I’m far too vain to ever live as a cripple.
Samantha: This is why frontier life is so difficult. Not because of the Indians or the elements but because of the idiots
Chicory: Mr. Brooder just educated two Mexicans on the meaning of Manifest Destiny.
Kurt Russell is the named actor of this one and has followed up his terrific performance in Quentin Tarantino “Hateful Eight” with another standout performance as Sheriff Hunt. Director Zahler, as does QT, allows his actors to actually show emotions, lack of emotions, and draws in the viewers with scenes that can fully playout with little regard to film time. That is, he does not rush through a movie set piece, giving his actors time to flesh out a scene/emotion as in real life, giving the viewer time to emotionally assess what is happening. This director controls to a great degree what he wants you to “think” during a scene. Zahler does not insult the viewer and if you are of the “I am getting tired of this”, so be it. You as the viewer can just walk away. I like that and if you are an impatient movie viewer and have problems with “thinking while watching”, that is on you. Leave, as I am sure the director could care less. For me, I understand that a film is a directors medium and you view what the director want you to view and also will move you to places that you might not expect or want to go. That is what Zahler does. That is what Tarantion does. I appreciate that.
Given the added violence and gore involved, you will see things that you might not actually want to view, such as a man being scalped, and being split down the middle as being hung by his heels, naked, with a bone tomahawk, with his entrails spilling out on the ground. Not pleasant stuff, but why attend a movie that you have not researched. View this on at your own risk.
The supporting cast is totally spot on. Richard Jenkins outstanding as Chicory, Shariff Hunt’s deputy. His take on his character is fresh and perfect. Matthew Fox and Patrick Wilson are standouts also. Fox as sociopath Brooder has never been better and his death scene is Oscar worthy. Wilson is allowed to show range and the pain he suffers with his bad leg is graphic in an unusual way. It is his acting and not the visual that gives one to feel the hurt.
Shot for less than $1.8 million in the Los Angeles area, one might think this flick is a “B” movie which is farther from the truth. This is a major motion picture and one that should have garnered more awards than it did. In time as I have already said, “Bone Tomahawk” will gain in stature and will be one of the most significant “westerns” of our time.