posted 27 Apr 2018, 05:54 by Paul Woodward

Genre: Western

Stars: Luke Hemsworth / Trace Adkins / Cameron Richardson / Kris Kristofferson / Bruce Dern

Director: Timothy Woodward Jr

Certificate: 15

Run Time: 1hr 28mins

Year: 2017

Although this film is billed as a ‘True Story’ – I think other than a few facts and meetings the film is largely fictionalised. It focuses on Wild Bill Hickok’s time as a lawman in Abilene and his confrontations with saloon owner Phil Poe. The tension between Poe and Hickok is intensified by the fact his childhood sweetheart is engaged to Poe.

I love Western’s and trust me I’ve seen far worse than Hickok but it is a little bland, it’s not a must watch film but worth a looksee if you’re a hardcore Western fan and it’s on the TV. It has a very old school western vibe to it, quite slow moving and building towards the gunfight finale. Even the shoot out is filmed and performed in and old school way, it does feel like the director is paying homage to the genre’s heyday in the 1950’s.

Although Hickok is a notorious wild man, here comes across more like a drifter with no drive or ambition – a bit feckless. The film portrays him as reluctant and modest hero and he even gets a ‘Shane’ style ending. Although we all know he doesn’t actually die for many years after his time in Abilene. A few facts are thrown into the mix, but unless you know your American history you’ll be unaware of the facts. It also makes more of Hickok’s meeting with notorious gunslinger John Wesley Hardin and involves him in the plot more than what was real. Hickok’s love interest Mattie and her son helps flesh out the story and gives added incentive for the final showdown between him and Poe.

Trace Adkins, is never going to win any awards for acting but my main problem here is he just doesn’t come across as intimidating or menacing enough for you to start yelling for Hickok to sort him out. The script and plot are pretty thin, and Hemsworth apart it does feel like all the actors are just going through the motions. History buffs may not like Hemsworth’s portrayal either as he comes across quite laid back and despondent, with no knowledge of Hickok’s life he comes across as quite affable and inherently good regardless of all his flaws.

Bruce Dern and Kris Kristofferson, do well with their very small roles, but their inclusion does feel like a ploy to draw attention to the film. It’s obviously a reasonably low budget film, but it’s filmed well and directed in a traditional western style and doesn’t feel ‘Cheap’.


Review by Woody