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Bone Tomahawk
BLU-RAY disk
03.02.2016 By: Jason Adams
Bone Tomahawk order download
Director:
S. Craig Zahler

Actors:
Kurt Russell
Patrick Wilson
Matthew Fox
Richard Jenkins

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
After a group of Native American cannibal cavemen kidnap two members of their town, a group of men set out to get them back.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?

There are few things I truly love in this world, but high on that list is definitely Kurt Russell and a good western. Throw in a bit of horror and more great actors and BONE TOMAHAWK is pretty much everything I want in a movie.

The high score isn't just because I personally like the ingredients either. This is a movie where everything comes together beautifully, from the jarring first shot to the satisfying ending. It's a film filled with great characters and strong writing from the get go, effortlessly settling the audience in to a believable world. There's a sense that the townspeople all have a history together without blatantly telling you, so that by the time the search party sets out at the end of the first act, each character has established stakes and motivation for the rest of the movie. It's really something that feels like it was written by an author and not a screenwriter.

That would be because first-time filmmaker S. Craig Zahler IS a novelist by trade. Here he takes on the duties of writer, director, composer—hell, he even sings the song over the closing credits. The fact that his first outing behind the camera is this good is impressive enough, but it's a minor miracle when you consider the budget ($1.8 million) and quick shooting schedule (21 days). The style is confidently composed but visually sparse, letting the actors and the natural scenery do most of the work. Zahler's decision to keep things at a distance with minimal close ups might stem from the fast production, but it works gangbusters in setting a foreboding tone. Nobody's going to mistake the Paramount ranch set for John Ford's Monument Valley, but given what the director he had to work with, the results are more than fine.

Also amazing for the budget is the caliber of cast that signed on to this, obviously due to the strength of the material and not the paycheck. Kurt Russell is the best he's been in years, finally returning to a lead role and his first as a cowboy since TOMBSTONE no less. His Sherriff Hunt is a classic Russell character, a man with unflinching virtues and stoic resolve, willing to walk directly in to danger because it’s the right thing to do. Russell may be the hero, but Patrick Wilson is the heart of the story, playing a painfully crippled man who literally hobbles across a mountain range to rescue his wife. He's aided by LOST's Matthew Fox, an unpredictable gunslinger with a dark past, and the always dependable Richard Jenkins, who provides the occasional necessary comic relief. All four leads have fantastic chemistry together and consistently entertaining banter between them, especially Russell and Jenkins. (Very few actors could pull off their conversation about corn chowder.)

The majority of the film follows those four on their rescue mission, but there are small supporting roles with a ton of great character actors, including Sid Haig, David Arquette, Fred Melamed, James Tolkan, Michael Paré and even Sean Young. Lili Simmons from TRUE DETECTIVE and STRIKE BACK plays Wilson's wife. Even though she's kidnapped for most of the film, Simmons is not your typical damsel in distress and the movie is much better for it.

BONE TOMAHAWK is mostly a classic western—very reminiscent of Ford's THE SEARCHERS in many ways—but it does take a hard turn in to horror in the final act, a transition it handles surprisingly well. The entire journey builds up to hellish descent in to cannibal territory and it doesn't disappoint. The troglodytes have an inhuman ferocity to them that makes them very effective villains during their limited screentime and Zahler doesn't pull any punches when it comes to their behavior. That includes one of the best gore scenes of the year. It's a memorable sequence that will no doubt come up any time BONE TOMAHWAK is mentioned, but this is overall a stellar movie, and one I'll be happy to rewatch for years to come.

THE EXTRAS

The Blu Ray is lacking a DVD or Digital Copy if you care about those things. There's a solid Q&A recording, but I really would've killed for a commentary on this.

The Making of BONE TOMAHAWK (10:04): This is pretty standard as far as interview/behind-the-scenes stuff goes, but there's some solid info dispersed here. It's always nice when cast/crew seem genuinely excited about a project.

Deleted Scene (2:30): This brief scene featuring Jenkins was clearly meant to be at the very end, but the current ending works much better without it.

Fantastic Fest Q&A with the Director and Cast (34:40): This discussion with Zahler, Jenkins, Fox, Wilson and producer Dallas Sonnier is definitely the highlight of the bonus material. Questions from the audience range from a variety of topics, but a lot of the panel seems to venture toward how quick and arduous the shoot was.

A Poster Gallery and Theatrical Trailer is also included.

FINAL DIAGNOSIS

BONE TOMAHAWK may have gone the VOD route, but don't let that fool you in to thinking this isn't a quality flick. Anyone who is a fan of westerns or Kurt Russell (and who isn't?) owes it to themselves to check this out.

Extra Tidbit: Zahn McClarnon, who has brief cameo, starred in the fantastic second season of FARGO with Patrick Wilson.

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2:13PM on 03/02/2016

A Great Time

I was really surprised how much I loved this movie. I'm not a big horror fan but melding of a western and a horror film together was fantastic. I got it on Vudu as soon as it came out and was not disappointed.
I was really surprised how much I loved this movie. I'm not a big horror fan but melding of a western and a horror film together was fantastic. I got it on Vudu as soon as it came out and was not disappointed.
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9:16AM on 03/02/2016
I think this might be my favorite Matthew Fox role ever.
I think this might be my favorite Matthew Fox role ever.
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5:44AM on 03/02/2016
Great film indeed, though perhaps a hair too long in the middle, for my taste. But goddamn if that scene where they pull the dude apart isn't one of the goriest moments I've seen in a film.
Great film indeed, though perhaps a hair too long in the middle, for my taste. But goddamn if that scene where they pull the dude apart isn't one of the goriest moments I've seen in a film.
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