The Wild Bunch Reviews
Aesthetically 'TWB' adheres to the iconography common to the genre, dirty characters inhabit the beautiful landscapes and the fight between America and Mexico acts as a political backdrop, cementing the globalism of the film's ideologies in a realistic nature and adding a sense of authenticity to the plot.
At its core 'The Wild Bunch' is quintessentially about camaraderie against all odds, and
the thoughtful visual metaphors throughout, such as a scorpion being overwhelmed by red ants, do not seem out of place or overly obvious amongst the intrigue and action that keeps the film above entertaining throughout.
One day in my one-sentence synopsis of a Western's plot, I plan to write, "A man in a white hat kills a man in a black hat." In that sentence I'm making fun of Westerns' penchant for clearly dividing villains and heroes by the color of their hats, but more to the point, I'm making fun of the simplistic idea that there is such a thing as clearly defined good guys and bad guys. The Wild Bunch flies in the face of this idea. And yes, they all wear brown hats. The "heroes" of this film are hardly heroes. They kill indiscriminately, they rob, and they have no altruistic motivation. The closest we get to an admirable goal is Pike's desire to rest. The antagonists are just as bad if not worse, obeying no obvious code and also killing without compunction. As a whole, I like this theme for its complexity.
William Holden shows range, playing the blood-letting Pike, and Ernest Borgnine does likewise as the fat, laughing Dutch.
I thought the plot got contrived in the third act.
Overall, this western defies the conventions of its genre and is all the better for it.
Anyways, this film, a revisionist western released ate the height of the Vietnam War (with Peckinpah saying there were some parallels, especially with reactions to the content), still manages to be brutal and shocking. This film was meant to be the be-all end-all as far as screen violence was concerned, trying to provide content so graphic that people would stop glorifying violence, and see it for how ugly and awful it truly is.Unfortunatrly, this not only backfired, it caused people to get even more excited about graphic violence, something which greatly disturbed Peckinpah for years after.
The story here is one of a gang out old school outlaws who are struggling to come to terms with the rapidly changing and modernizing world around them. 1913 seemed like a place not for them, and this film shows said gang making their last stand to relive their glory days.
The action is incredibly well done, and some of the shooting and editing techniques were considered quite innovative for the time (but not so much now). The direction is quite sharp, and the amount of blanks and squibs used (especially during the big finale) is absolutely mind-blowing, with rumors going around that more blanks were fired during the filming of this movie than actual bullets were fired during the real Mexican Revolution. I don't know about all of that, but still, it's ridiculous how many bullets are let loose, and how much blood is spilled during the run time.
There is of course a point to all of this. Besides just being a rip-roaring western action film, one can get all academic and stuff, especially concerning the portrayal of violence, the reactions to it, and how it fits into the context of Vietnam and stuff, with all of it earned, and not just shallow attempts to make something academic where it doesn't fit.
The cast are awesome, and include several well knowns, including Ernest Borgnine, who is, as far as I'm concerned, one of the coolest/most bad ass humans/actors/icons this planet has ever seen, or will ever see.
Definitely check this film out. It's awesome. It's violent, it's nuts, it's still shocking, and it is just a great yarn in general. It's also influential as all Hell. I mean, without this, there'd be no John Woo, no Robert Rodriguez, no Quentin Tarantino, and the world of the cinematic shoot-out would be a whole lot different (and not as exciting).
The Wild Bunch is a group of disillusioned outlaws who are out of time and they know it. When Sykes says that they've got one of those things (a car) up north that can fly, they gloomily accept that this new-fangled 20th Century is not for them.
It is a movie all about values and about a man's loyalty to his companions. Holden brilliantly declares that if you cannot stand by a man who rides with you, you are like some kind of animal. In the end, that is all these hunted men have: their loyalty to each other.
And so they band together for one last walk to try and rescue their doomed Mexican comrade. The bloodbath that follows is an eloquent summary of their lives. They who live by the gun.....
Superb performances by Holden in particular and also by O'Brien, Ryan, Borgnine, Oates and Johnson. Peckinpah's finest hour. Definitely ten out of ten.
An aging group of outlaws look for one last big score as the "traditional" American West is disappearing around them.
Exactly 40 years after its initial theatrical release, "The Wild Bunch" has become one of the most enduring American classics. The movie is about a posse of older bank robbers who attempt to do one more job before retiring for good. But everything goes terribly wrong for the aging "bandidos". It is an extraordinary film; one of the best westerns ever made and definitely director Sam Peckinpah's bona fide masterpiece. From a technical standpoint, this is a must for students of cinema. Editing, camera work, sound, music, etc., are top notch. I found myself totally captivated by Peckinpah's amazing command of the film medium. This is the first time I saw the uncut version (I'm guessing the new footage is mostly composed of the flashbacks sequences since I didn't remember these sequences), and I have to say that with or without the new additions this is a magnificent film. It is a profound exploration of honor and old age in last days of the wild frontier that is not only provocative but has also remained relevant to modern audiences. Highly recommended (if you do not mind excessive violence).
Westerns, action and film were all never the same after The Wild Bunch .
It also features the most awesome director's credit in history.
"If they move, Kill em'!"
Possibly Holden's, and very possibly Borgnine's best work, although his Marty performance is justifiably legendary and hard to beat.