Set in the late 1800’s, Bone Tomahawk is an old fashioned western with twist. When a local doctor, a deputy sheriff and a prisoner are captured by some cave dwelling Indians four local men set out to rescue them. Trudging across the rugged terrain of the Wild West they must make a 5 day journey into 3. With few supplies it’s a hard challenge but they must make it if they are to save the lives of their people. It’s an enjoyable film to watch despite its simple story line.
Kurt Russell plays the local sheriff (Hunt) of a small town of only a few hundred people. Determined to rescue the people taken from their sleepy environment which lies somewhere in the wilderness, little does he know what awaits further down the dusty road. Bone Tomahawk displays a delightful western filmed on a ranch out in California. What is pleasing to see but more importantly to hear is the wonderful dialogue of the characters. How they greet each other despite them knowing one another is charming. Men are not greeted by their first names, on most occasions they are called by their family names or the title they hold such as Sheriff Hunt. But it doesn’t stop there, how they interact and the conversations had are enriched with great flair and are courteous.
In civilized towns you look a man direct in the face when you talk to him.
The story is a rather simple one and it’s not a one that gallops along at a pace. For the best of the film you are watching 4 men struggle with the heat and their surroundings as they embark on a rescue mission. One of the men is the husband of the captured doctor, he is injured with a broken tibia. Hell bent on getting his wife back he joins the trek but clearly he is holding them up. Patience isn’t lost here with the remaining three men as they look to work together. So while the end game is saving the abducted you watch a bond of men which is pleasant and cordial.
You do wonder where and how the film is going to end. It is not a gunslinger so those wanting to see a bullet a minute show down may be disappointed. For the best part the weapons are holstered but the ending is somewhat surprising yet enjoyable. Although they are hunting down Indians, these are a different breed, cannibals. They won’t hesitate to kill you in the most gruesome way and then eat your limbs. Some of the death scenes are not for the fainthearted and it’s the ending that makes the film worth watching. Some might call this a horror-western and although the ending might border into the horror category it’s fun to watch.
You could argue it’s a little drawn out and maybe more interaction with the Indians throughout the film would have worthwhile. Overall though it’s a good western, especially with the twist ending that certainly breaks the mold of a normal Wild-West. All the characters are played with distinction and are strong on screen. There is a real togetherness of them and you really feel the fight for justice.
Reviewed by Jon Elliott