Each Monday, I continue to share Western movie reviews as I go through the process of making my own 12 Westerns in 12 Months during 2020. I am watching these films not from an audience perspective but as a filmmaker, as a student of the genre.
Week Forty: Wild Bill
I decided to give Walter Hill’s 90s Western another try. He’s one of my favorite filmmakers and this flawed film just had to have more in it than I’d previously discovered…
The second viewing did prove the presence of some things I’d overlooked and it also reinforced the ones that don’t work. What I like most about this messy, over-stylized Western that really comes after Hill’s peak period is the chaotic nature of its first half. There really is no straight narrative for forty five minutes, jumping erratically from episode to episode of violence. It’s wild, messy, and super effective.
Then the film settles into this repetitive, more traditional story with David Arquette’s character. It remains a mess but not nearly as interesting of one and definitely predictable from one beat to the next. The one highlight of the second half is the sex scene, which itself is sadly interrupted, as it might be one of cinema’s most raw, true sex scenes (definitely one of the best in the genre).
Ultimately, Wild Bill is a sad miss by one of the great masters of the Western. He would go on to make more solid entries in the genre: Broken Trail and reworking with some of the same characters when he directed the first episode of Deadwood.
Seen on Amazon Prime.