Bone Tomahawk Movie Review
Visceral, violent, esoterically metaphysical, extremely detailed oriented, thought provoking, edgily paced, and a treat for those not yet afflicted with cell phone related ADHD, this western is truly a one of a kind treat for those viewers that have an appetite for slow atmospheric, meticulously paced ventures into parts of the unknown terrains of the Southwestern United States in the late 1800s.
This is actor Kurt Russell’s return to the big screen after a somewhat prolonged hiatus and he gives a fully formed, highly personal performance as a small town sheriff who vows to rescue his good friend’s wife and his second deputy after both are abducted from her and her husband’s homestead by cannibalistic troglodytes of an old unknown tribe of Native Americans who obviously have an intense craving for “man flesh”. Yummy, yummy for the tummy, tummy, tummy this diet is not. Joining Russell on the search is his loyal as a hound dog but not too bright deputy, Richard Jenkins, as well as a stylish dandy of an “Indian killer” played with quiet cool reserve by Matthew Fox, and the husband of the kidnapped wife who is imbued with integrity, intensity, and gusto by Patrick Wilson who heads into this highly precarious mission with just one good leg after a previous roofing mishap leaves the other leg broken below the knee cap. The fibula is somewhat pulverized to be more specific.
Their quest extends into a surreal realm where times stretches beyond reason. Three days seem like several weeks as the party eventually finds the two captured innocents imprisoned in an old abandoned mining cave high atop a desert foothill.
Without revealing some very important plot points, the rescuers save who they can and engage in some brutal hand and weapon combat to bring home the people they love and care about. To say that these “cave dwellers” were savages is a true understatement. These primitives were downright beastly and animalistic to say the least.
S. Craig Zahler’s first feature length film, Bone Tomahawk is an extremely well crafted work all the way from rock solid direction, the exquisite cinematography and great use of lengthy master shots (captured on Red Dragon HD camera/cameras), set and costume designs, very authentically atmospheric exterior locales, to the all around fine performances by the cast that have fun with a darkly comical screenplay that helps the flow of the 130 minute running time gallop along when it threatens to become bogged down in the personal issues of the individual party members. The original soundtrack is a tad eclectic and is well worth seeking out as an enjoyment in and of itself. One song performed at the conclusion of the picture was quite memorable and had several passages that were bona fide sing along material.
Bone Tomahawk is a creative endeavor that treads the latter of two cinematic roads (commercial/big budget and independent) and has a strong original vibe to it. We need more films of this high caliber released, films without a ton of money spent towards the cast and visual effects. There are just so many solid technical and production elements in this one that felt truly organic, devoid of artifice, and actually seemed and felt lived in and that is a far greater achievement that the vast majority of Hollywood fare can offer as of late. I highly recommend this film and it should reward the viewer who can take deep breathes, relax, and just glow with the flow of the narrative and the blood.