Set during the grand, sweeping Napoleonic age, an officer in the French army insults another officer and sets off a life-long enmity. The two officers, D'Hubert and Feraud, cross swords ... See full summary »
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
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 »
a lucid satire about a lunatic, self-made dictator
Alex Cox and Rudy Wurlitzer have one of the more perplexing and rather cool works of late 80s subversive film-making with Walker, a film about a real man and his mad overthrow of the government of Nicaragua in the mid 1850s. It was a fiasco, but it almost wasn't at one point. There was a moment where the line was distinctly crossed with the execution of a certain character, and it's also at this point in the film that Cox lets things go even further off the wall from the period setting. For a while it's so not trying to be any kind of absurdist take on things that it seems like a (good) serious take on a man like Walker (Ed Harris) in a strange land that he thinks he can make well under "democratic" terms. As he soon goes against everything stood for, the film too goes into bizarro world, mixing in cars, computers, Time and Newsweek, and even a real army helicopter and soldiers (the copter, I might add, was a real chopper used in the Nicaraguan battles of 1987).
In the sense of marking out ground that is all of a director's own in this form and context, it's not quite Aguirre, but for Alex Cox, a director who's had his ups and downs, it's a significant achievement. It seems like it should be all nonsense, and that the film might be taking itself too seriously. But in reality the nonsense is what the film is sort of about, not really how it comes off. Cox goes between overtly homage-like slow-motion action shots of battle and blood splattering with guns going off like Peckinpah with a heap-load to let go. What is it, anyway, to try and bring democracy to a land like Nicaragua, and under the circumstances (i.e. under Vanderbilt, played by Peter Boyle with his own crazy-big mutton chops) that should be already considered troublesome? Walker wasn't even any kind of politician before this, though as also a doctor and lawyer he tried (unsuccessfully) to bring some battle over Mexico.
Is it a microcosm? Does it say where we're headed, or rather where we are now? Probably to both. It's a trip that shouldn't be taken too lightly, and it definitely isn't for everyone, but what's thrilling about Cox's vision is that he has no fear of what the audience will think anyway. Like Repo Man's mix of teen punk comedy and sci-fi action pic, Cox is mixing and experimenting forms, a Dr. Strangelove take on Manifest Destiny with a style that veers between obscure spaghetti western and featuring one of the great, groovy soundtracks of the 80s from Joe Strummer. It might not be anything that will end up on 'best-of-ever' lists, but as a work unto itself this and Withnail & I are the superb cult films of 1987, with this begging for some re-examination twenty-something years later. At the least, it's one of Ed Harris's unsung masterful and subtle performances.
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