June 2, 2020

The Long and Winding Road to A SOLDIER'S REVENGE

A SOLDIER’S REVENGE (Blu-ray Review)
Starring Neal Bledsoe, Rob Mayes, Annalynne McCord, Jake Busey, Savannah Judy, Luke Judy, Val Kilmer. Directed by Michael Feifer. (2020/140 min)

Review by Tiger the Terrible😼

Maybe it’s my upbringing, but I feel like any western that runs nearly two-and-a-half hours should be epic and sweeping in scope. Despite its claustrophobic setting, even The Hateful Eight managed to feel...well, big. But I guess that’s why Tarantino movies are events and writer/director Michael Feifer cranks-out bushels of TV potboilers every year.

Not that I’m suggesting he’s a bad director. A Soldier’s Revenge, which he also wrote, is competently assembled. The film is shot with workmanlike skill and the performances are uniformly decent. The story adequately moves from point A to point B without ever veering off the road. But it does make a hell of a lot of stops along the way.

The biggest problem with the film is its deadly running time, taking forever to tell a story that’s only marginally interesting to begin with. Neal Bledsoe plays Frank, a soldier-turned-bounty hunter suffering a bit of PTSD. Then two kids ask him to help find their mother, who’s been kidnapped by her own abusive husband, Briggs (Rob Mayes). He’s initially not interested, then learns their mom is his former lover, Heather (AnnaLynne McCord). Coincidentally, Frank and Briggs also have a dark past, suggesting the frontier might be even smaller than a certain galaxy far, far away.

"Cool story, bro."
In fact, small could be used to describe the entire movie. From the locations and production design to the characters and story itself, the whole thing is kind-of underwhelming. There isn’t a single memorable scene, stand-out performance or narrative surprise. Still, I won’t begrudge that because I’ve endured plenty of forgettable westerns that were at-least watchable. But A Solder’s Revenge is unnecessarily long by nearly an hour, stretching an already-thin story well past the breaking point.

Only Sergio Leone could get away with being so long-winded. As westerns go, A Soldier’s Revenge is proficiently pieced together, but there are times when the journey is not more fun than the destination. Sometimes you just want to get there, and this film has no business dragging it out for as long as it does.


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