An ambitious but flawed film that is average at best.
Regrettably, the great genre of film that is the Western struggles mightily in our present time. Most Westerns are now low-budget, like The Duel, but that does not mean that it should be written off (I was pleasantly surprised that the recent release Forsaken was a decent Western). There are some positives in this film, yet negatives are rampant and I will note the primary ones.
This film features a decent cast and an interesting story which involves an investigation surrounding missing people and an occult leader that has come to control the hearts and minds of the people of a small Texas town. However, besides a respectable performance by Liam Hemsworth, the cast is mediocre and forgettable with Woody Harrleson topping the list as being a cliché villain with forgettable, pretentious faux-intellectual dialogue.
The action is average at best, and above all else there is a feeling that the writers or producers wanted to inject their opinion regarding the current treatment of Mexicans (something a reviewer on Roger Ebert's website noted) into a script already bogged down with murder, missing persons, revenge, a husband-wife relationship, a mysterious town, and a religious occult leader. It is subtle. However, it seemed out of place and unnecessary but that does not stop Hollywood from forcing a narrative or agenda into a movie, does it?
Overall, this is a movie that had promise, but sub-par acting and a feeling that it did not know which plot point should receive the most attention weakened the film as a whole. If you like Westerns, you may find it more alluring because of the genre. Nevertheless, it is a one time watch that struggles and does not contribute anything of great worth.
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