The Wild Bunch Reviews

Page 1 of 88
Super Reviewer
June 7, 2014
Raw, intense, visceral and gritty are just some of the few words that describe Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch, which ranks among the finest Westerns ever made. The film features an all star cast of talented actors who light up the screen in the classic film. Every actor brings something terrific to the screen that elevates the plot significantly. Under Peckinpah's kinetic direction, The Wild Bunch is an action packed Western that is one of the finest in the genre. Peckinpah, like Sergio Leone before him, helped shape the Western film in a way that was both brutal, yet beautiful. Peckinpah had a flair for crafting pictures that really raised the bar in the way violence was presented, and in doing so, he broke new ground in what you could do in the cinematic medium. Set near the end of the Old West, when the country is being modernized in first years of the 20th Century, the film follows a group of aging outlaws out for one last score. The story is simple, but it works to the film's advantage because it doesn't overcomplicate things, the film uses the performances to elevate the films story. The result is impressive and in turn The Wild Bunch is a superb and accomplished picture that ranks among the finest Westerns ever made. With a great cast at his disposal, Sam Peckinpah does what he does best, and that's to make a riveting, violent and highly thrilling picture that has all of the director's trademarks that has made his work standout. In terms of sheer entertainment, The Wild Bunch succeeds on every level, with memorable performances, tense, well executed action; this is a blistering Western that is ranks among the finest of the genre. Sam Peckinpah knew how to get the most out of a simple concept, and that's exactly the case with this movie. Highly engaging from start to finish, this is a thrilling picture that delivers on all fronts, and it's a movie made with that raised the bar of what you could do in the genre.
Super Reviewer
June 12, 2013
A tale of unfaltering masculinity in an era of change, Sam Peckinpah's 'The Wild Bunch' is a masterfully crafted deviation from the conventional western. Initially following the titular criminals as they rob, murder and brutalize a town for personal gain the film's protagonists are shown as unrelenting and cold-blooded, this is soon altered, however, and the film's theme of change (both politically and morally) is reflected by the audience's perception of the bunch as they are subjected to the benevolence and brotherhood prominent within them over the two and a half hour running time.

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.
Super Reviewer
½ March 18, 2007
Sam Peckinpah's eulogy to the old west is regarded as something of a classic of the genre. One of the most striking things about this film is the total lack of a "good guy vs. bad guy" mentality, something Peckinpah made clear right from the opening scene when Holden's men arrive dressed as soldiers, seemingly about to be ambushed by outlaws. But everything is not as it seems. Holden and his gang are a bunch of outlaws and thieves but operate with loyalty and a code of honour. Robert Ryan, an ex-partner, heads a pack of bounty hunters hunting them down who act like the vultures picking through the trail of corpses they leave behind. Boasting not one, but two of the most spectacular shoot outs ever committed to celluloid, the final scenes redefine the word "bloodbath" and make a John Woo set piece look like a Sunday school picnic. It does sag a little in the middle when there's one too many scenes involving tequilas and trumpets, but otherwise an essential addition to the collection for fans of the old fashioned western.
Super Reviewer
April 16, 2013
A gang of outlaws involves itself with a Mexican dictator while pursued by one of their own.
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.
Super Reviewer
½ June 9, 2012
Initially panned by the critics for its graphic level of violence, it is now rightly considered by most as an indisputable classic. An explosive and unforgettable Western that depicts with brutal intensity the last breath of an era, when outlaw gunfighters were finally becoming obsolete for a new, modern generation.
Super Reviewer
January 29, 2008
A masterpiece from beginning to end, Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch is the quintessential bad guy hang out movie. These guys do some terrible things, but even so you still want to just hang out with them, and you'll follow them into anything. There's a terrific energy to the film that I believe is lacking in some of Sam's other work, but it's full-on here. As with all of his work, it's very gritty and downbeat, but mesmerizing to watch. Most fans and critics seem to think it's his best film, and while I'm not entirely sure about that, I do believe that it's his most accessible on a pure entertainment level.
Super Reviewer
½ October 28, 2011
Peckinpah at his best, he takes the western to a new level. The image of ants eating a scorpion will always remain in my mind.
Super Reviewer
June 22, 2006
I could have sworn that I had already provided a review for this quite a while back. Odd.

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).
Super Reviewer
½ January 25, 2007
i feel like peckinpah might have done a bit much here, but the characters and the actors who played them were excellent and the overall story was great when it wasnt being distracted by everything happening on the sidelines. the violence worked well, and although the ending was atypical for a western it fit well. overall, and excellent western.
Super Reviewer
April 5, 2007
Pure manliness, they don't make them like this anymore. Mostly because there are no more directors like Peckinpah around.
Super Reviewer
February 23, 2010
Such an amazing western, very original and relentless for it's time. I think that this gave American Westerns the boost they needed. It's interesting to see a movie where there are no heroes, just different forms of villains chasing each other around Texas. The performances are great from William Holden and Robert Ryan, as well as the ensemble bit characters. The visual style is perfect, it gives it the final touch on a stroke of genius.
Super Reviewer
½ October 26, 2009
An incredible performance by William Holden is the high point of this sensational, landmark film. Holden made a whole career out of laid-back, easy-going, what-the-hell sort of characters but here, at his zenith, he departs from type and plays a character so mean and so embittered that in some ways he even out-Bronsons Bronson himself.

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.
Super Reviewer
September 6, 2009
Let's hear it for blood packets! Make this the second Western I have ever liked. There was no point where I was bored while watching this movie, which usually happens in most Westerns. I was very much intrigued. Liking the bad guys - how unusual.
Super Reviewer
½ December 5, 2008
"The land had changed. They hadn't. The earth had cooled. They couldn't."

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).
Super Reviewer
January 6, 2009
A Peckinpah masterpiece. One of the best westerns ever made.
Super Reviewer
½ November 14, 2007
Opening with one of the most ominous beginning montages and one of the best shootouts of any Western, the bar is set high. The brilliant soundtrack and breathtaking cinematography take up the torch, and lead us through a winding, suspenseful storyline. The three lead men (Holden, Borgnine and Ryan) deliver strong performances for Sam Peckinpah and create a classic Western in the process, complete with double-crosses, shootouts and campfires aplenty. The Wild Bunch is a staple of the genre and a complete delight to look at, and everyone gets what they deserve - even if you're not sure until the end just what that is. A great film.
Super Reviewer
½ March 24, 2007
Peckinpah's poetic tale of masculinity is a sight to behold. A truly brutal and beautiful film about the death of the old west. Holden, Borgnine, Oates, O'Briejn and Ryan are marvelous as the last of a dying breed.

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'!"
Super Reviewer
May 6, 2006
The quintessential "death of the West(ern)" film. Peckinpah was honorably amazing in his quest for brutal realism on screen. Love what the Monty Python group did in tribute to him with the lawn party. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid also salutes Peckinpah's vision.
Possibly Holden's, and very possibly Borgnine's best work, although his Marty performance is justifiably legendary and hard to beat.
Super Reviewer
March 1, 2007
One of the all-time great westerns.
Super Reviewer
½ August 11, 2007
"what this scene needs is more bullets...lots of bullets...!"
Page 1 of 88