Summary: Powered by Sam Shepard's rich performance as Butch Cassidy in his latter years, 'Blackthorn' is an expertly directed western that lingers long after the last shot rings out.
Butch Cassidy, now in his elder years, takes a break and calmly states: "There's only two moments in a man's life: when he leaves home and when he returns" 'Blackthorn' forms the backbone for the middle of Cassidy's life.
The hook for the story is that he didn't die spectacularly in Bolivia as the legend (and the classic Paul Newman/Robert Redford film) would have you believe. Instead Cassidy (Sam Shepard) is alive and assuming the alias of James Blackthorn.
He's cashed in his bank robbery money is in transit when his horse bolts taking everything he's worked for with it. He's left with a young Spanish swindler who just may have a bigger fortune to find but it means attracting the attention of gangs and the law once again.
Like Eastwood's 'Unforgiven', this isn't just an excuse to give an old man of action another play in the sandpit. Instead it takes a strong character and haunts him with him the damning curse of hindsight and a fear of not completing his journey how he wants to before his time is up.
Shepard, an Oscar nominated actor and Pulitzer winning writer, is excellent here in the kind of lead role he deserves plenty more of. But the real revelation here is director Mateo Gil. He wrote 'Open Your Eyes' which was remade into 'Vanilla Sky' with Tom Cruise. As a director, Gil knows his westerns and constructs his own wonderful set of images that could proudly stand alongside John Ford's compositions. The scenes shot on empty salt flats are remarkable.
'Blackthorn' is a great addition to the genre. Paced slowly but with an air of deep thought, 'Blackthorn' extends and enriches a legacy without tarnishing it which is what Shepard's character strives for.
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