Director: S. Craig Zahler
Cast: Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox
Release Date: Available on Blu-ray & DVD December 29, 2015
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
When a group of cannibal savages kidnaps settlers from the small town of Bright Hope, an unlikely team of gunslingers, led by Sheriff Franklin Hunt (Kurt Russell), sets out to bring them home. But their enemy is more ruthless than anyone could have imagined, putting their mission – and survival itself – in serious jeopardy. Kurt Russell (The Hateful Eight, Tombstone) leads an all-star cast, including Patrick Wilson (Insidious), Matthew Fox (“Lost”) and Richard Jenkins (The Cabin in the Woods) in this gritty, action-packed thriller chronicling a terrifying rescue mission in the Old West.
In the generally peaceful small town of Bright Hope, the arrival of a mysterious drifter initiates a chain of events that will change the lives of the folks residing within forever. When two locals along with the drifter are abducted by a group of vicious savages employing a level of brutality unlike anything they’ve witnessed before, the town Sherriff (Russell) accompanied by his assistant deputy (Jenkins), a dangerous smooth talker (Fox), and an injured cowboy (Wilson) embark on a treacherous trek into unfamiliar territory in a desperate attempt to rescue the missing townsfolk or die trying.
Written and directed by S. Craig Zahler which also marks his directorial debut, Zahler does a magnificent job at the helm of ‘Bone Tomahawk’ guiding his wonderful screenplay with near perfection and beautifully capturing the tone of the era as well. The film also benefits tremendously from the incredibly talented individuals who comprise the cast including Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins and a number more, all of whom deliver exceptional performances in each of their respective roles, although Fox and Jenkins tend to frequently steal the show.
‘Bone Tomahawk’ is simply marvelous. A beautiful, emotionally charged throwback to classic westerns with a notable horror-like touch and featuring a wide exterior scope brimming with gorgeous and detailed surroundings that truly take you back to an age long ago, displaying not the slightest hint of anything slightly modern, the clothes, interior furnishings and every other minimal detail flawlessly representing the era. The film wisely adapts a more slow-burn storytelling mode with only the slightest hint of music present on occasion, truly granting the director and his powerhouse cast the power to capture our attention and pull us into this adventure without the need for an overpowering score, the lack of which only accentuating the tension. ‘Bone Tomahawk’ is also surprisingly humorous, largely courtesy of the random comments and extrinsic questions blurted out by Jenkins’ character at the most unexpected of times.
Overall, for fans of true westerns with a slight twist on the genre as well as anyone who can appreciate a quality film with a powerful story utilizing a slow burn storytelling method and not requiring constant action and unnecessary visual nonsense to keep their attention, I can’t possibly recommend ‘Bone Tomahawk’ highly enough. A brilliant directorial debut from S. Craig Zahler and only boosted by a tremendous cast at their best, ‘Bone Tomahawk’ is a modern filmmaking gem and another wonderful reminder that true cinema is far from extinct.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Bone Tomahawk’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic as a whole, delivering a sharp, detailed presentation from start to finish that perfectly accentuates the gorgeous and extravagant surroundings consistently on display in the film, holding up impressively even during the darkly lit or fast moving sequences and never resulting in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a top notch high definition video presentation that should easily please the masses.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack sounds great and compliments the film wonderfully, utilizing all five available channels on a few occasions to send gunshots or other tools/weapons whizzing by along with a few hard hitting moments that are so perfectly placed as to nearly cause the viewer to jump in alarm along with those on screen. It more frequently takes advantage of the surround channels in a much more subtle manner such as with crickets and other nature-related auditory elements present in order to fully immerse the viewer in the characters’ journey, and never resulting in any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a solid 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that delivers in every way required of it.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Bone Tomahawk’ includes a few notable extras. Included on the release is a Featurette titled ‘The Making of Bone Tomahawk’ (running approximately 10 minutes in length) which includes interviews/comments with the cast and crew. We are also treated to a ‘Fantastic Fest Q&A with the Director and Cast’ (approximately 35 minutes), plus a ‘Deleted Scene’ (3 minutes) or ‘Extended Ending’ if you prefer as the scene takes places after the ending in the final film. A ‘Poster Gallery’ and the ‘Theatrical Trailer’ (3 minutes) for the film are also included.