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Walker (1987)

An unconventional retelling of the life of William Walker, a 19th century American mercenary leader who became the president of Nicaragua.


Alex Cox


Rudy Wurlitzer

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1 nomination. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ed Harris ... William Walker
Richard Masur ... Ephraim Squier
Rene Auberjonois ... Maj. Siegfried Hennington
Keith Szarabajka ... Timothy Crocker
Sy Richardson ... Capt. Hornsby
Xander Berkeley ... Byron Cole
John Diehl ... Stebbins
Peter Boyle ... Cornelius Vanderbilt
Marlee Matlin ... Ellen Martin
Alfonso Arau ... Raousset
Pedro Armendáriz Jr. ... Muñoz (as Pedro Armendariz)
Roberto López Espinoza Roberto López Espinoza ... Mayorga
Gerrit Graham ... Norvell Walker
William O'Leary ... James Walker
Blanca Guerra ... Yrena


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 Volker Boehm

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Before Rambo... Before Oliver North...


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Alex Cox


USA | Mexico | Spain

Release Date:

4 December 1987 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Os Imortais See more »


Box Office


$5,800,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


According to the Turner Classic Movies website, the "film had the complete cooperation from the Sandanista Government, and the Nicaraguan Cinema Institute". 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 »


Yrena: You were very good last night. Not great, but for a gringo good enough.
See more »

Alternate Versions

All horsefalls using tripwires were cut from the UK release, but the complete version has been shown twice on network TV (BBC2). See more »


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User Reviews

Disappointing effort in all the things it tries to be
18 September 2012 | by Rodrigo_AmaroSee all my reviews

Truth be told, "Walker" is almost enjoyable for a long period of its running time. Too bad it doesn't live up to the expectation of viewers who wanted to see a more accurate project on the life of American mercenary William Walker and his small triumph of being President of Nicaragua during the 1800's. I know director Alex Cox ("Sid and Nancy") was drawing parallels with the Reagan administration and its politics on Central America with the invasion of Granada, supporting conflicts in El Savador, Panama and other countries but the film fails on a epic stance simply because it wasn't serious enough to be that. If it is a satire where was the object for such? If this was a mockery on America's politicians and their excessive control on everything where's the funny parts? There's plenty of ridiculous scenes and characters that one doesn't walk out of this amused or fascinated but completely unmoved.

For one moment this was quite intelligent in giving us an artistic involvement from the part of Mr. Cox and his comparison of both 1855 and let's say 1987 presenting a Nicaragua where you can read Time and Newsweek magazines, see automobiles and helicopters in the 1800's. When Walker (played by a quite decent Ed Harris) makes his final speech on why Nicaragua needs the U.S. intervention and that this will never end we're not seeing Walker no more, we're seeing Reagan years ahead and even wondering of another possible intervention in maybe 50 years from now. Cox's invention works a little but such innovative artistic license works better in "Caravaggio" and "Marie Antoinette".

So, who is Walker anyway? From this movie we get that he's a soldier of fortune (oddly enough, Harris played another one on the same decade as this, in "Under Fire" also about American intervention on a Central America nation) with plenty yet quite unclear self interests in there who takes over the nation bringing a mindless and ruthless dictatorship that goes to punish and oppress, even condemning their own comrade in arms, and bringing slavery to the country. Definitely, not a likable character, the tyrannic Walker goes to insane action from another. A more natural and realistic approach would benefit the movie since Harris really prepared for the role. It's a good performance but unworthy of such film.

The director wants to shock us in the closing credits with controversial archive footage of what the Reagan administration made in Central America but almost pointless if all the way through the movie we didn't felt the same reaction when Walker was blowing cities for his pleasure, people were being killed again and again. Those scenes are brilliantly filmed, followed by the nice music of Joe Strummer, but most of the time the actors are only making ridiculous faces instead of feeling pain from the bullets, and there's countless moments when we know the director is trying to make us laugh with some situations. But they never come. I felt sorry for Rene Auberjonois and his loud and wounded performance. Such a great character actor reduced to painful moments through this mess. Worst than all of this is that this is a terrible noisy picture, really hard to hear with so many noises in the background.

Having this film being something historical it could have been a great film. Instead is heavily problematic, flawed, erroneous in so many ways that it killed Alex Cox career in Hollywood, with his future projects almost invisible to audiences. I don't see any difficulties in people liking "Walker", it's an easy thing to watch but I do think people are missing the difference between art and wanna be art. As Woody Allen said one time: "There's only two things that can be controlled: art and masturbation." Frankly, "Walker" is neither since it doesn't offer the pleasures of both and is completely out of control. 5/10

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