Blackthorn review (Blu-ray)

The thought of Sam Shepard playing Butch Cassidy is a most appealing prospect indeed. And though certain shots evoke fond memories of the classic Newman/Redford western, Blackthorn is but a pale shadow.

Shepard's good though as the elder outlaw, now living under the name of James Blackthorn in a secluded backwater of Bolivia, a good 20 years or so after it was thought that he and the Sundance Kid had perished under the gunfire of the Bolivian army. Since that time he has lived modestly and honestly, but now decides to return to the US after receiving a letter from the son of Etta Place. He sets off, saying goodbye to his mistress, and soon becomes entangled with Eduardo (Noriega) a young criminal who inveigles him into dirty dealings regarding monies from a land mine. Soon the odd couple are being stalked by a new posse of lawmen - we can see them hovering on horseback in the distance - but this time Blackthorn is too grizzled and cynical to be worried. He's too disinterested to say: "Who are those guys?"

Flashbacks show us the young Butch and Sundance when they first arrive in Bolivia with Sundance's squeeze Etta. The actors are all competent enough but don't shed any new light on the characters. Stephen Rea crops up as Blackthorn's long suffering antagonist and there are a fair few shootouts to try and bring this tedious tale to life. It's a well made effort to be sure but never proves involving or exciting. Considering the subject, it's a major disappointment.


Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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