Flash Reviews are quick (under 500 words), but packed with nerdy goodness.
This dark, dusty, brutal, grim, yet hopeful Western is a complex piece of art. A seemingly straight-forward plot unravels in unexpected ways with incredible character work. The dialogue is full of flavour from the era. Actually, the entire screenplay is a real gem. Each scene has its own arc, and could exist as a stand-alone short film.
The grisly nature, 70s film-making, and eclectic voice give BONE TOMAHAWK a Quentin Tarantino vibe. Legendary Black List writer (best unproduced scripts, namely BRIGANDS OF BATTLEBORGE) S. Craig Zahler directs, ensuring this story made it to the silver screen. To be certain, this tale is savage in nature and has its fair share of brutal violence that will even shock gore-hounds.
A lot of the scenery is bleak, and limited scoring helps the story feel contained. The subtle style helps us settle into the story without “telling” us how to feel. Instead of music, the scenes are largely scored by footfalls (be it from the beasts in the mountains, horse-hooves on the plains, or boots on a wooden floor).
Kurt Russell leads the way as the honourable Sheriff of a small town. His Deputy, played by Richard Jenkins (THE VISITOR), steals scenery with comedic relief. His dialogue is some of the best of the film. The Law joins Patrick Wilson (LITTLE CHILDREN, FARGO: Season 2), playing a husband bed-ridden by injury, who’s wife (the town’s doctor) is kidnapped by revenge seeking cannibals from a tribe of inbred indigenous people.
Rounding out the cast is Matthew Fox (TV’s LOST) as the cowboy dressed all in white. This tough gunslinger knows how to survive, and will come in handy as they embark upon a long journey to rescue Wilson’s wife. While Russell is the star, and scene-stealers Fox & Jenkins are impressive, Wilson is the real surprise. This man insists on joining the rescue despite his fractured leg. He won’t give up, even when his life teeters in the balance.
Our determined heroes must overcome incredible obstacles along the way. This Western is pulse-pounding, extremely intense, and hard to watch at times. However, the bleak tone, thick atmosphere, restrained direction, and a marvelously executed simple premise make BONE TOMAHAWK the surprise hit of the year. The script is astounding for several reasons: from the structure and pacing, to the story, through to the characters and dialogue.
The Western / Horror hybrid may turn away some serious viewers, but this is much more nuanced than a slasher you may dismiss it as. This is a story of the connections we make, the promises we make, and the emotions that propel us.
S. Craig Zahler’s next feature couldn’t come quick enough. We may have a new rising talent behind the lens and behind the pen.
* A NOTE ON THE / RATING SYSTEM (PINK = HALF) *
///// WORTH BUYING – ///// THEATER – ///// RENTAL – ///// NETFLIX – ///// SLIP ON THROUGH
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