Its 12:01 pm
About 10 days ago,our video store re-opened it’s doors and after waiting for two months,I was eager to head on down to pick up a few new titles. But the stores are still scrambling to get their feet back on the ground as they are two months behind in new releases. But I was able to get two films I had my eye on before the pandemic hit,the IFC Midnight film “RadioFlash” and a indie Western called “The Warrant” with Neal McDonough and Casper Van Dien.
It has been a while since we have reviewed a Western and with the cast of “The Warrant”,we were pretty excited to watch it.
The film opens up during the Civil War as we see John Breaker (McDonough),his son Cal (Steve R. McQueen) along with Virgil Travis (Van Dien) and his son Perkins serving with a Union regiment as they skirmish with Confederate forces in Missouri.
The film then cuts back to five in the future as see John is a Sheriff in his town and lives a relatively quiet life with his wife Bonnie (Annabeth Gish). His deputy Bugle (Gregory Cruz) also served with John in the war and the two men are lifelong friends who have a easy banter with each other.
When Cal,now a Federal Marshal shows up,he comes bearing bad news,he has a warrant to bring in Virgil,now a outlaw known as The Saint. We then get several more flashbacks to see how Virgil and John’s relationship was forged and what led to Virgil to become a outlaw.
John,feeling responsible for Virgil,and Bugle join up with Cal and Deputy Shanks to track down The Saint who has surrounded himself with a gang of hardened bandits as they kill and rob anyone they can and especially if they are tied to the South.
The four lawmen track down Virgil holed up and as they try to get him to surrender,a group of vigilantes are also joining the fight in the hopes of getting a 10,000.00 reward for The Saint,dead or alive……
This movie….its one of the most interesting,frustrating and weirdly made Westerns I have watched. I’m going to address what we LIKED about the film first because there is plenty to like.
The acting is the one thing about “The Warrant” that leaped out at me. While I always expect a great performance from Neal McDonough,it also was great to see Casper Van Dien turn in another great performance as well,he has stated in many interviews about much he enjoys doing Westerns and it shows here. His Virgil Travis is the most interesting character in “The Warrant”. Like John tells Virgil as Virgil holds a hostage at gun point,”You’re bad but you’re not evil”. I think its more of a case of Virgil being broken hearted and embittered that led him down the wrong trail. Van Dien gives The Saint a soul and emotional depth but you also know that he is far too gone for any sort of redemption.
McDonough as John Breaker is equally interesting,he knows he is partly responsible for the way Virgil has turned out even though Breaker never intended the tragedy that shaped the future for the two men. When Cal mentions how the two were once friends and John denies it,it isn’t the truth. The two were friends but Breaker’s guilt won’t allow him to admit that. It a weird twist of fate,Breaker’s attempt to help Virgil towards the end of the war isn’t the act of mercy that John feels it is,he would have done both men a much better service by following his orders,in not doing so…sows the seeds for vengence and sorrow later on.
The action scenes were okay,even though the cheetah wondered how men in combat in the mud and muck of Missouri could have such clean uniforms.
Now the bad news……while “The Warrant” is well intended and a lot of love went into it,its not a very good movie. The directing and pacing is too slow,the story involving too many flashbacks eats into the running time which could have been better spent developing other characters,like maybe The Saint’s gang and how they came together.
Instead they are poorly written and I have seen comic strips with more depth.
The women actors,led by Gish,barely have any lines and writer Shea Sizemore’s script in trying to be daring in creating a plot twist insteads leaves a huge plot hole that pretty much sinks the film.
The score isn’t very good and adds nothing to building up suspense and excitement,it sounds as vanilla as elevator music.
But guess what? We’re still liked “The Warrant” and we are recommending it based solely on the great performances of McDonough and Van Dien. They are worth watching even if the movie is a bit flawed.
“The Warrant” has a run time of 75 minutes and special features include cast interviews and a “Making Of….” featurette. The film was made for the Inspiration Family Channel so the violence isn’t that bad.
The cheetah and I give “The Warrant” a thumbs/paw straight up.