Remember in school when the teacher handed out a theme for an assignment and there was always one student who wilfully and deliberately went out of his/her way to ignore every guideline and instruction?
Meet Bone Tomahawk, a film that could be any one of a number of genres but continually and stubbornly refuses to show any semblance of adhering to any tone but confusion.
That said, in spite of this lack of coherence, Bone Tomahawk has some genuinely ‘wow’ moments, not the least of which when a man is slowly, and grotesquely, rent in twain by three men and the sharpened jawbone of a beast. It’s the first time in a long while that I have squirmed in my seat and thought ‘yo, too much dude’. It’s an even longer time since I’ve used that sentence in public.
The film opens with a graphic throat slashing which has little to do with anything. Shortly after bad guys take the wife of a young man and take her away to the badlands. This justifies a chase posse of the oddest kind, with the gruff sheriff Franklin (Kurt Russell), his rambling old man deputy, a hateful and emotionless man Mr Brooder (Matthew Fox), and the hobbled husband of the kidnapped woman Mr O’Dwyer (Patrick Wilson).
The four man crew depart on horseback and spend a good portion of the film bickering and riding, then walking and bickering, then eventually fighting and bickering. These usually dull sequences are occasionally punctuated by short bursts of violence, but not in any linear way that serves the film positively.
When we finally meet the crazily intense, cannibalistic (and super pasty) gang of native Americans, it’s a hyper violent breath of fresh air. It doesn’t last, because despite the aforementioned act of prolonged bisection this does little to lend stability to proceedings.
Bone Tomahawk has a seemingly linear vision and perhaps a message that I could not gather, but to me it mostly seems a bloody and brutal exercise of why bother.
Final Rating – 6 / 10. A film with at least one scene that will remain with you for a while, but for no solid reason.