Blackthorn (2011)

Everything Else is Just the Middle

Nothing in particular drew me to watch today’s movie besides my love of a good Western.  I had seen a trailer for it before one of my recent reviews, but had not heard anything about the movie before that.  It is a Western, to be sure, so I was interested, but I admit to having next to no knowledge of the character the movie is about.  I’ve not even seen the biggest movie that is based on the exploits of this character, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  But something still seemed interesting about the movie and the fact that it’s available on Netflix streaming just cemented the idea that I should watch it today.  Also, I had nothing else to watch.  So let’s hear about Blackthorn, written by Miguel Barros, directed by Mateo Gil, and starring Sam Shepard, Eduardo Noriega, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Padraic Delaney, Stephen Rea, Magaly Solier, and Dominique McElligott.

In the realsies, Butch Cassidy (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is said to have been killed in 1908, but these claims have never really be substantiated.  This movie suggests that he is alive and well twenty years later, going under the moniker of James Blackthorn (Sam Shepard), living in Bolivia, and bangin’ a lady named Yana (Magaly Solier).  Blackthorn decides to return to the United States when he learns of the death of his old friend Etta Place (Dominique McElligott) and to visit her son (and his), Ryan.  When he goes to sell some horses, he is ambushed and his horse is scared off, along with all of his money.  The money wasn’t scared off, I mean the horse was and his money was on the horse.  You know what I mean!  Anyway, Blackthorn confronts his attacker, a Spaniard named Eduardo Apodaca (Eduardo Noriega), who explains that he is being chased and thought Blackthorn was one of them.  Apodaca asks if he can accompany Blackthorn, telling him that he’s hidden $50,000 that he stole from a Bolivian industrialist, and Blackthorn can have half of it if he helps him.

I don’t know if I wasn’t paying attention or if I really just had nothing come to my attention about this movie, but I took not a single note about this movie as I was watching it.  I’m pretty sure this is the first time that’s ever happened.  Well, since I took no notes, this review is over.  The movie’s okay.  The end.  Okay, I’ll go a little deeper into it than that, but keep in mind that the 60’s were pretty rough on my brain.  This movie was indeed “okay”.  It wasn’t all I hoped for, but it was good enough.  I’ve had pretty good luck with Western’s thus far in my life, having almost exclusively seen really good ones.  I tend to prefer the ones that are closer to action movies like Tombstone and the Quick and the Dead.  This one wasn’t that.  It was a lot more talkie and a lot slower paced, like Unforgiven and the Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.  Okay, I just really wanted to write that long ass title.  It’ll pad out my review!  Blackthorn was interesting enough, but a little slow moving and didn’t really make me want to pay that much attention for some stretches.  It’s mostly about an old guy trying to tolerate a Spanish guy so that he can get paid.  Blackthorn also has a lot of flashbacks through the movie about his time with Sundance and Etta, but they never really seemed to have a whole lot to do with what was going on in the main plot.  It seemed like someone was either a really big fan of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and really wanted a sequel, or someone just wanted to perpetuate the myth that he didn’t die in a shootout in Bolivia.  Maybe both.  Having no knowledge of the movie and no particular affection for Butch Cassidy, the movie had to make do on its own merits.  It does it well enough, and has at least one pretty good action scene, but it was slower paced than I was interested in.  The look and settings were all pretty great.  They had a Western feel to it, but were just different enough because it was Bolivia.  It felt like a Western, but looked a little different at times.

I can’t really come up with any complaints about the performances in this movie.  They were all really good.  Not super fantastic, but really good.  Sam Shepard seemed to be perfectly cast as the older, grizzled Butch Cassidy.  He was a pretty good badass.  Eduardo Noriega was sometimes a little annoying, but he should have been as the antagonist of the movie.  And that’s basically the entirety of the cast.  Everyone else was fine, but I don’t have more to say.

Blackthorn’s a pretty good movie for a slower-paced Western, but that wasn’t really what I was in the mood for at the moment.  The story was good, but slow and boring in parts, with flashbacks that seemed unnecessary.  The look of the movie, as well as all of the performances, are very enjoyable.  Though it doesn’t apply to me, if you were a big fan of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, you’ll probably really enjoy seeing what (allegedly) happened after it.  If you’re like me and know nothing of Butch Cassidy, but enjoy a good Western, you’ll probably think the movie is fine.  It’s available on Netflix streaming if you want to roll the dice.  Blackthorn gets “I wonder how this movie did at Sundance” out of “You don’t get any richer than that.”

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