The Wild Bunch (1969) – 4.5/5

A brutal, violent, somewhat misogynistic take on the Wild West that still manages to be quite great despite featuring no redeemable characters of any kind and some of the most ridiculously bloody, borderline vomit inducing shootouts I’ve ever seen in any movie ever. The only movie that comes close violence-wise is “Bonnie and Clyde,” which, though also quite brutal, lacks the degree of shocking intensity and gore that this film has. Very few films I’ve seen have portrayed violence this brutally actually, which is quite the feat given how old this movie is.

I loved the way the beginning shot of **SPOILERS** scorpions being consumed by ants perfectly foreshadowed what would ultimately happen to the characters in the end. **END SPOILERS** It’s cruel and hard to watch, and a great way to make you realize this won’t be your typical Western. The plot is pretty sprawling; at times it feels like a quest movie, at others, like a chase film. It goes on a bit longer than it should, and none of the characters are particularly likeable or decent, though the two older opposing gentlemen are sympathetic in a way. It’s a bold writing and filmmaking decision to base a film around some pretty vile, villainous characters, yet it all works somehow.

In the end, I enjoyed the heck out of this film, even though it is a bit slow and wandering at times. The film is violent and brutal in a way most movies, even notoriously violent ones, aren’t, repulsing viewers with its brutal gun battles rather than glamorizing the things the way most other movies do. The violence here is so unpleasant that you’re actually filled with dread whenever circumstances imply an upcoming gun battle, especially during the build up at the end that results in what is arguably **SPOILERS** one of the most brutal massacres I’ve ever seen. **END SPOILERS** And it just goes on and on, getting progressively more graphic and bloody until finally reaching its inevitable end. Yikes.

So, yeah, really good western, but extremely violent, much more so than you’re probably used to. It’s great if you have the stomach for it, though.

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  1. July 10th, 2012

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