Luckily for Jay he suddenly finds himself in the presence of Silas (Michael Fassbender), a no-good outlaw who basically forces Jay to accept him as a guide for the fee of a hundred dollars. Jay isn’t happy about it but like the audience he has realised how poorly equipped he is for survival and against all better judgment accepts the helps of the big scary man with a gun. But this whole arrangement seems fishy from the get-go and … you know what, I’m actually going to leave it there.
The plot isn’t really that much more complicated and most of the reveals come out early, but the characters are deep and interesting and I believe their story deserves to be told the way the filmmakers intended (if that isn’t too snobbish a thing to say). Jay and Silas embark on a quest across the plains, mountains and forests of America meeting a variety of old west stock characters who are all subtly interesting and unique, and lightly philosophising about the human condition and the fragility of life, all the while pushing the plot towards it’s dramatic conclusion. With things being pretty clear right from the beginning that conclusion won’t be the happy love story Jay is hoping for.
What I guess I want to say is that I liked this film and I recommend it but with a few caveats. Weirdly I left this film feeling a little disappointed but that’s because I kind of felt like I should have loved it and I actually only liked it, which is about as petty as complaints can get. I do love the wild west as a setting, despite not being that into westerns, and I’m a sucker for a quest movie, of which this is a great example. But although all the components work it kind of feels like the movie doesn’t quite come together one hundred percent.
Also there are very few films that can pull off a voice over and this isn’t one of them. The film opens with Fassbender narrating how he tracked down Jay and this narration continues some way into the film but it’s very unnecessary, either explaining things that are largely irrelevant or just things that have already been explained within the actions of the film itself. If anything it just works to unravel the mystery surrounding his character and to be frank I think it was a big misstep. In addition I’d say that between the visceral though very well staged violence and the deeper occasionally surreal feel of the films message, you might find the film falls awkwardly in-between Tarantino and the Coen brothers. Whilst I think captures much of the essence of those styles it undoubtedly falls short of the quality of either.
So overall it’s good but it never quite reaches great. Consider me recommending this film in as much as if you think you’ll like it I think you’ll like it, and if it sounds a little outside your comfort zone then it probably is. As it stands I enjoyed it but I recognise it’s not without it’s flaws.
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