Two groups of armed men eye each other across a body of water. An deadly incident ensues and the first group returns to their town in fear of the consequences, which never come.They realize that far greater danger is offing.
When boredom, pride and a mad second of misjudgement leaves a hunter shot dead by one of five combat veterans also hunting in the Canadian hills, it is expected a police investigation will follow, but when the veterans discover the incident has not been reported, the leader of the team, Major Rex (Cliff Robertson) suspects the other party maybe plotting revenge. Convinced that he, his party, and their families will be targets themselves he decides to beat his suspected assailants at their own game, grouping together more army comrades and stocking up an arsenal of weapons for the forthcoming battle.Written by
Shoot first, ask questions and grow paranoid the rest of your life
I honestly never intent to touch upon political themes in my film reviews, but I can't help establishing that some of the main topics in this 42-year-old movie are still incredibly relevant today. For you see, I'm writing this review just a few days after another terribly catastrophic mass shooting took place in an American high school (Parkland, Florida on Valentine's Day 2018) and naturally the debates regarding the controversial 2nd Amendment are held across the internet. These same socially sensitive debates are also already featuring in Harvey Hart's 1976 film "Shoot" and it remains a disturbingly realistic and uncomfortable sight to see how a man, with access to a nearly unlimited weapon arsenal, grows increasingly paranoid and bloodthirsty.
The film, adapted from a novel by Douglas Fairbairn that I would love to read, has a very simple but effective premise. Six middle-aged small-town buddies, former Vietnam veterans, meet on an ordinary Sunday morning to go hunting. They're strolling through the woods and make jokes, and then they spot another hunting party across a river. They first stare at each other when, suddenly and for no apparent reason, someone in the other group fires a shot in their direction. Wild gunfire ensues in which Zeke (Henry Silva) kills a hunter on the other side. When the group is back home, they are debating whether to report the incident to the authorities and they are quite astonished to learn that the other party didn't report it either. Rex, the self-declared leader of the pack, becomes more and more convinced that the other group is preparing a bloody retaliation and urges his pals to surprise them first.
Many of my fellow reviewers are giving a lot rating to "Shoot" because of its slow pacing and uneventful middle-section. It's undeniably true that the screenplay contains too many dull and overly talkative sequences, but the uncanny atmosphere remains throughout and the macho male performances keep you glued to the screen. Even during the slow middle section there are a few extremely powerful and memorable scenes, like when Rex visits the dead hunter's widow or when Ernest Borgnine gives his solid friendship speech at the meeting. The finale is vintage 70s survivalist/warfare spectacle. "Shoot" is not quite playing in the same league as "Deliverance" or "Southern Comfort", but it's nevertheless a highly recommended drama/thriller.
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