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William Walker and his mercenary corps enter Nicaragua in the middle of the 19th century in order to install a new government by a coup d'etat. All is being financed by an American multimillionaire who has his own interest in this country. Written by
Alex Cox says on the commentary of the Criterion Collection DVD that, out all the movies he's done and despite the fact that this film had hurt his career as a Hollywood director, he believes that 'Walker' is his best work. See more »
This film is littered with anachronisms (for example: modern cars, color printed magazines and coca cola bottles). However, these are clearly an artistic choice by the film-maker and cannot be considered true 'goofs'. See more »
Best remembered (if at all) as the film that comprehensively destroyed Alex Cox's mainstream career, it's hard to see what caused such vitriolic offence at the time. Cox and screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer's take on the unbalanced self-deceiving 'idealist' mercenary William Walker's intervention in Nicaragua to protect Cornelius Vanderbilt's financial interests there, setting off a century of disastrous American interference, is not particularly subtle, but then William Walker wasn't exactly a subtle man ("Clearly this is no ordinary asshole," judges one of the more astute locals). With a visual style clearly inspired by spaghetti westerns and Sam Peckinpah, a contradictory narration - what you hear isn't what you see, with Walker's own third person narration frequently completely at odds with the farcical reality - and a slew of critic infuriating anachronisms, it was received with a mixture of outrage and contempt that makes the critical reception of Domino look like a triumph of Schindler's List proportions.
It's not a great movie, but it's certainly not the disaster its been painted, and even the at first jarring anachronisms are fun - Walker gets the cover of both Time and Newsweek, interviewers use tape recorders while Vanderbilt has a computer displaying stock market prices in his office - but perhaps should have been introduced earlier: however, there's no doubting the pertinence of the final arrival of trigger-happy helicopter gunships to evacuate the US citizens. Harris is on fine self-righteous form as the 'short idealist,' short on ideals but big on a sense of divine purpose even though he has no idea what that purpose actually is from one moment to the next. With a concise running time and a great Joe Strummer score, it's an ambitious and often entertaining oddity. Just don't go in expecting a history lesson or a straight biography. It's not perfect by any means, but there's too much that's interesting about the film to dismiss it entirely out of hand.
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