Directed By: Clint Eastwood
Written By: John Lee Hancock
This movie distinctly reminds me of my brother and our youth. It was a movie he liked a lot and for some reason I associated it with him and the feeling I had in looking up to him as a child. I like this movie but it’s not one I really love or identify with. It made its way into the collection in the same way that plenty of movies that truthfully don’t belong have made it in. Amazon Prime suggested it to me with its nice low price and fancy no shipping cost. I looked at it and I thought of my brother, pressed the order button and now it has it’s own place on the shelf.
Now, looking back I think this is interesting because it was a Clint Eastwood film I really liked before I had come to the realization that Clint Eastwood was a fantastic filmmaker. Of course Clint Eastwood has been making great movies for my entire lifetime but I never bought into his tough guy image until Gran Torino . By that time (2008) I was just late to a party that everyone had already had a great time at. I have watched and enjoyed many Eastwood films since coming to the realization he deserved my respect, but this one stands out as one that I appreciated without knowing he was the man at the helm.
Clint Eastwood is a truly gifted director but I have not always been his biggest fan as an actor. Specifically during the time this movie came out I saw him as nothing more than a cliché. The ever grisly and hard faced cowboy. Which is exactly what he is in this film as the wise and experienced Texas Ranger. He does his thing in this movie and there is nothing wrong with his performance but I don’t think there is anything exceptional about it either. If anything it’s a performance that only serviced to harden my stance that he was nothing more than a cliché.
I think the strength of this film is in the performance of Kevin Costner. I was not a big fan of Costner either in the 90s either but I do believe in giving credit where it is due. Costner played a really great part as the quietly intelligent criminal that befriends the little boy and becomes the father figure he himself never had. Costner had great chemistry with the young actor who played Phillip/Buzz, T.J. Lowther.
I like the themes of the movie that even bad people can be good, but in the end they are still bad guys. Butch wins us over by becoming a father figure to Buzz and developing a bond with him that warms our hearts. Yet before it is all over he reminds us why he is a bad guy. It’s chilling when he becomes full on criminal again. So much so that even Buzz, who has grown to love him, won’t stand by and allow it to go on. Butch may have been really intelligent and had a soft heart for kids, but he was a violent and dangerous man all the same.
One interesting factoid about this film is that it references JFK coming to Dallas. Of course JFK was ultimately assassinated in Dallas and it could easily be misunderstood as this movie taking place right before that fateful trip. It does not however, the movie references too many campaigns and the election year was in 1962 while JFK was killed in 63. I don’t think the year of the setting is actually said in the film but it had to have taken place before November of 1962. I was disappointed to find this out because when I was watching it I felt like it was about something that took place in Texas just weeks before the President was killed. The kind of thing that might have happened. The kind of thing that nobody would really know much about or ever even remember. The kind of crazy story that happens all over the world all the time and gets passed over in the aggressive rush of progressive time. The world keeps on turning and people move on and forget it ever happened. It still is that type of story, it just doesn’t rest in the shadow of such a great American tragedy.
I like this movie but I don’t love it. I think it lives up to the standards of it’s filmmaker’s quality and ability but beyond that it’s not one I expect to find myself talking people into. It’s a cool movie but I wouldn’t suggest going out of your way to see it. This movie would be great for Clint Eastwood and/or Kevin Costner fans but otherwise it will be one I imagine is largely forgotten in time.
NEXT MOVIE: Phantoms (1998)