Kurt Russell heads the strong cast of S. Craig Zahler’s violent horror western.
Editor's Note: Throughout March and April, we’re celebrating Great Westerns of the 21st century — noteworthy movies and TV series with special appeal to C&I readers that have premiered since 2001. Check the Entertainment tab Monday through Friday to see a different recommendation by C&I senior writer Joe Leydon. And be on the lookout for our upcoming May/June 2020 print edition, which prominently features the legendary star who looms large in two of this century’s very best westerns.
And now for something completely different: Bone Tomahawk, writer-director S. Craig Zahler’s audacious 2015 horror western starring C&I reader favorite Kurt Russell as a grizzled lawman who leads a rescue party to save folks abducted by — are you ready for this? are you sitting down? — a tribe of cannibalistic troglodytes. It’s definitely not for the squeamish — the violence often is shockingly graphic — but the performances are first-rate across the board, and the movie as a whole abounds in eccentric twists, unexpected situations, intriguingly complex characters and splendidly colorful dialogue.
When you wear the badge and keep the peace in a Wild West town, you’re expected to stand your ground against any lawbreakers — yes, even cannibalistic troglodytes. And if a bunch of those scary varmints abduct members of your community — well, dang it, a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. You just have to raise a posse, and ride off in hot pursuit.
Russell plays Sheriff Franklin Hunt, a sharp-eyed shootist and natural-born leader, and he’s backed by a dream team of formidable co-stars — Matthew Fox (of TV’s Lost), Patrick Wilson (William Travis in 2004’s The Alamo, and Emmy Award winner Richard Jenkins (HBO's Olive Kitteridge) — who ride tall in their respective saddles as they accompany Hunt on his quest. Also on hand, if not along for the ride: Zahn McClarnon of Longmire and The Son as The Professor, a scholarly Native American who warns Hunt that the “savages” he is tracking aren’t the sort he’s used to dealing with.
“When I read the script,” Russell told C&I back in 2015, “I was struck by how very different the story was. It’s not just about one thing. The script was written in a very realistic style and the dialogue is what would have been spoken at the turn of the 20th century. I love the way S. Craig Zhaler wrote the script, and as a first-time director, I think that he did a terrific job. It is a strange hybrid between a true western story initially told in an authentic low-key way — until it’s not.”
Bone Tomahawk is available for streaming on Amazon Prime. iTunes, You Tube, Google Play and other platforms.