Calvin Barr is a kindly, naturally gifted American war veteran with a Hitler slaying past. His twilight years are dominated by quiet self-reproach and personal melancholy until the F.B.I makes a house call. Barr reluctantly agrees to embark on a dangerous mission to dispatch a different kind of monster that threatens to sabotage the entire human race.
Although this highly original alternate history movie sports one of the most exploitative titles of recent times it is decidedly more arthouse than grindhouse. Indeed, it evokes comparison with Always era Spielberg and early Hal Ashby – though less mawkish and more baroque respectively.
Aidan Turner (Poldark), who plays the young Calvin in this dual time-line flick, was initially attracted by the striking title and then became captivated by the stunning script. It is highly likely that this will mirror the audiences experience very closely.
The movie takes itself painfully seriously and therein lies a large part of its charm, but it is not without wit amongst the pathos. There is a subtle jocularity peppering the script and the odd sprinkle of visual humour. Look out for the hands of a Nazi watch, one of the many devices the film uses to playfully analyse the concept of time.
Sam Elliot, as present-day Calvin, rolls back the Roadhouse years to deliver a staggering performance of placid majesty. He effortlessly controls the tone and gait of the picture exemplified by the best movie monologue since Robert Shaw went shark hunting. Not to mention a nice line in Sasquatch shit based frivolity. Elliot should not be overly surprised if he finds himself clutching a golden statuette come awards season.
Confident in pace and structure it’s a richly textured film both in terms of cinematic execution and thematic depth. A profoundly touching modern fable that warmly embraces human decency, dignity in the cold face of personal sacrifice and the bittersweet roots of mythicality.
Bradley Hadcroft | [rating=4]
Adventure, Drama. Fantasy | USA, 2018 | NC-15 | 15th April (Digital HD) 6th May (Home Release) | Sparky Pcitures | Dir.Robert D. Krzykowski | Sam Elliott, Aidan Turner, Sean Bridgers, Ron Livingston