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Bone Tomahawk review

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Bone Tomahawk


RLJ entertainment


R. 132 min




We talked a while back about films that have something to offer but maybe not enough to survive the maelstrom at the box office especially as year-end approaches. Films that might open in very limited distribution at the same time are released for a premium price on pay per view. Odds are one of the reasons for the limited number of screens is the lack of budget. Perhaps you have just enough money for a script and can convince a star into cutting you a break. Remember Arnold Schwarzenegger in that zombie movie? Well this time it's Kurt Russell starring in BONE TOMAHAWK , and it's a western even though it does have its share of zombie like creatures. (Just a note I'm guessing Russell signed on since he's already grown the beard for the upcoming Quentin Tarantino film and he had spare time between shots) Also included among the cast are Matthew Fox, Patrick Wilson, Richard Jenkins and Lili Simmons, all competent yet relatively unknown actors. The film itself is the brainchild of author/writer/director is S Craig Zahler from his original screenplay.


You don't have to be a pickerton detective to guess with the budget was reasonably tiny. Not just the fact that Russell is the only star but even though the camera work is above average the sets throughout are outdoors in the sunlight, and the makeup and special effects nominal.


The story itself is simple. A talkative and slightly addled old fellow who calls himself the backup deputy, reports to the sheriff (Russell) that he's seen a drifter burying something out in the wilderness. During questioning the suspect tries to escape and ends up with one of the sheriff's bullets in his leg. Simmons, the sexy town doctor, is summoned to the holding cell and is treating the leg when they are both kidnapped by what the town Indian calls troglodytes, a primitive and nasty bunch of native American cannibals who live in the caves outside of town.


The sheriff forms a posse including the assistant deputy, a bigoted but experienced Indian hunter and the Docs husband (who just happens to have a bad leg to slow down the unlikely quartet) and they all set off on an arduous and perilous journey to retrieve the lady doctor and the drifter.


And that, my friends, is about all there is. Well until the climax that is.


These folks trudge along encountering every imaginable hardship. Lack of water, loss of their horses and serious injury all add up to make the journey a long and painful one. The time is taken up by some of the strangest dialogue I've heard in any film. This dialogue, performed by good actors, falls somewhere between inane and clever, I'll let you decide which, but it is surprisingly engaging for its sometime lack of sense.


And the ending itself, which I won't blow for you just in case you take a flyer on this one, is decidedly grotesque but innovative as well. I give Zahler credit for cobbling a fairly interesting film out of what would seem a bit dreary from a basic summary. It's not great and it is a bit tedious but it's just left of center enough to hold your attention.














Westside Steve Simmons

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