182: The Wild Bunch

The Wild Bunch (R) - 1969 - Runtime: 145 minutes
Starring: William Holden, Ernest Borgnine
Director: Sam Peckinpah

My last western, and boy was this crazy! I didn't think much about this movie when I picked it up - a bunch of old dudes taking on the law for one last robbery? Sounds like the predecessor to Space Cowboys! But instead, the movie is more like a predecessor for all those crazy ass action flicks with blood and guts (see any Stallone or Schwarzenegger movie).

So I've already discussed the plot, it's that simple. The movie is really all about the action and the violence. In fact, Peckinpah went to great lengths to create a very realistic and bloody movie to provide a metaphor for Vietnam. Sounds a little heady? Well I really didn't sense too much connection with that failed war, but there were some great action scenes! And those come fast and furious as Holden and his gang take out thug after thug. I read somewhere that Peckinpah also wanted to depict this much violence on screen (which was a lot for its time) to show how horrifying it all really is. Instead, audience reaction was more of glee than of horror. What he set out to achieve ended up biting him in the ass. By today's standards, this movie is fairly tame, but I can only imagine seeing this in 1969 probably caused an uproar. But for the most part I enjoyed the tale, even if it's slim on story and character.

I wouldn't ever consider this one of the greatest westerns (not that I've seen much), but it's a good action flick if you're looking for something to tide you over until the next modern bloodbath comes along.

Rating: A Half-Hearted Rent It!

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