by Steve Lancaster 3/31/19
It is western story as old as Texas. Two Texas Rangers are charged by the governor of Texas to find and bring to justice two outlaws who were robbing banks and killing people in five states. If you get a picture of John Wayne, or Randolph Scott in your mind, don’t feel bad to discover it is not. Instead of Wayne or Scott imagine Woody Harrelson and Kevin Costner. The time is not 1875 but 1934 and the gang they are chasing is not the James gang or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.
Movies and books are filled with the romantic story of Bonnie and Clyde. This is the first, to my knowledge, to tell the story of the two retired Texas Rangers that tracked them down and put them down. In the early 30s the Governor of Texas, for reasons passing understanding, disbands the Rangers and Hamer and Gault find other employment. Hamer becomes a successful security consultant and Gault tries ranching.
Both men were born at the end of the romantic cowboy age, 1880s, by 1934 they are in their mid 50s, thick about the middle and haven’t fired a weapon in years. The story presents that they will have to outthink Bonnie and Clyde not out gun them. Just the same we see Hamer in a gun store stocking up. Thompson with 30 round mags, Colt 1911s, Shotguns and a BAR, Browning Automatic Rifle, and a case of ammo. Just what I need for a fun weekend!
Bonnie and Clyde had been on the run for two years before Hamer (Costner) and Gault (Harrelson) began their hunt for them. The movie stresses that Hamer and Gault are not expected to bring the duo in alive. The subtext says very plainly dead, no messy trials, or crying relatives. Dead or alive is not the option, there is only dead. This is frontier justice in probably the only two states it would be condoned even in 1934, Texas and Louisiana. Hamer and Gault were out of their jurisdiction, and technically could have been charged with murder. No DA in Louisiana or Texas would ever charge them.
One of the refreshing things about this movie is there is no PC crap. It is straight forward. Go find the bad guys and kill them. In spite of their progressive credentials both Harrelson and Costner play that line to the fullest. In that regard it must be some of the best acting done by either man in this century. The movie does not play up Bonnie and Clyde as romantic kids, but as the cold-blooded killers they were, also a refreshing change. It is a good movie, not one you will want to repeat on a regular basis, but Netflix has hit one out of the park with this one. • (252 views)