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Blackthorn (2011)


Average Rating: 6.4/10
Reviews Counted: 72
Fresh: 54
Rotten: 18

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Average Rating: 6.3/10
Reviews Counted: 23
Fresh: 17
Rotten: 6

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.


Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 2,013


Movie Info

It's been said (but unsubstantiated) that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed in a standoff with the Bolivian military in 1908. In Blackthorn, Cassidy (Shepard) survived, and is quietly living out his years under the name James Blackthorn in a secluded Bolivian village. Tired of his long exile from the US and hoping to see his family again before he dies, Cassidy sets out on the long journey home. But when an unexpected encounter with an ambitious young criminal (Eduardo Noriega) … More

R (for violence and language)
Western , Action & Adventure
Directed By:
Written By:
Miguel Barros
In Theaters:
Dec 20, 2011
Box Office:
Magnolia Pictures - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for Blackthorn

All Critics (75) | Top Critics (23) | Fresh (54) | Rotten (18) | DVD (2)

This story, parboiled out of one of the most memorable Westerns, is supported all the way by Gil's directing.

Full Review… | June 19, 2013
The New Republic
Top Critic

Shepard's crusty charisma gives this dignified genre effort its pulse: a growl-off between his Butch and Jeff Bridges's Rooster Cogburn is surely the next chapter.

Full Review… | April 10, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

It ain't Paul Newman and Robert Redford, but it ain't bad.

Full Review… | October 28, 2011
Detroit News
Top Critic

In place of a rousing adventure, "Blackthorn" is a haunting ode.

Full Review… | October 21, 2011
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic

Although Shepard is perfectly cast as a world-weary outlaw reluctantly drawn into one more adventure, the movie doesn't quite justify the resuscitation of classic film characters for another outing.

Full Review… | October 20, 2011
Miami Herald
Top Critic

"Blackthorn" feels less like a proper sequel to "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," which it purports to be, than a coattail rider.

Full Review… | October 14, 2011
Washington Post
Top Critic

It's a perfect part for Shepard, and "Blackthorn" provides considerable pleasure just in watching him ride a horse and bark around.

Full Review… | June 22, 2013

With Paul Newman no longer with us, no other actor could have fitted so snugly into the legendary outlaw's old boots.

Full Review… | March 14, 2013
Daily Star

Sam Shepard delivers a terrific, dry performance as the older Butch Cassidy, his stoic view of life honed by years of reflection and self realisation. It's a well written screenplay and director Mateo Gil makes the most of it

Full Review… | June 18, 2012
Urban Cinefile

Embodied effectively by a craggy Sam Shepard, it is not the physicality of Shepard that convinces us of his identity, but his character and the morals by which he lives

Full Review… | June 18, 2012
Urban Cinefile

Offers a fascinating imaginary sequel to the story of Butch and Sundance.

Full Review… | April 14, 2012
Observer [UK]

A Western in possession of a social conscience, but without lapsing into preaching or patronising, this is an unassuming film in some ways, but ultimately it's self-assured, elegiac and sometimes strikingly beautiful.

Full Review… | April 13, 2012
Electric Sheep

A leisurely, elegiac production that needed a sharper focus.

Full Review… | April 13, 2012
Daily Express

A subtle film that balances drama with gunplay.

Full Review… | April 12, 2012
Daily Mirror [UK]

While Shepard is a classically, charming and grizzled Western anti-hero, his co-star Eduardo Noriega, above, makes for a stiff sidekick.

Full Review… | April 12, 2012
Sun Online

Blackthorn is a handsomely mounted film, with many an awesome vista and rolling plain, but compared to the quicksilver brilliance of its predecessors, it comes off as irredeemably minor.

Full Review… | April 12, 2012

Nothing more than a passable Western that makes you long for something memorable.

Full Review… | April 12, 2012

With westerns rarer than hen's teeth, and decent westerns even rarer, this is certainly one that genre fans should seek out.

Full Review… | April 12, 2012
Radio Times

It feels as unique as the way the ageing Shepard's eyes appear weirdly independent of the rest of him. He's a bird of prey gazing through the holes in a crumbling wall.

Full Review… | April 12, 2012
Financial Times

Lonesome Dove with a dash of My Name is Nobody and a side of Ride the High Country, but Shepard, Noriega and the exotic Bolivian locations mark Blackthorn out as a notable entry.

Full Review… | April 12, 2012
Little White Lies

What really grabs the attention are cinematographer JA Ruiz Anchia's staggeringly beautiful Bolivian vistas, the riotously colourful backdrop against which Blackthorn tries to outrun his pursuers.

Full Review… | April 11, 2012
Sky Movies

Engaging and enjoyable, this is an impressively directed, beautifully shot Western with a thoughtful script and terrific performances from Sam Shepard and Eduardo Noriega.

Full Review… | April 11, 2012

Sam Shepard illuminated the old West - or at least the South American parts - with creaky charisma. He unleashes a growly old timer to rival Rooster Cogburn or Will Munny.

Full Review… | April 10, 2012
Empire Magazine

A Western about a cowboy vagabond who learns that you can't go home again.

Full Review… | December 20, 2011
Spirituality and Practice

Audience Reviews for Blackthorn

News flash - Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid faked their deaths at the hands of the Bolivian militia. Wow - ok, so what if ??? This is the jumping off point for Blackthorn (Cassidy's assumed name); in a film that takes place 27 years after the Bolivian "incident".

Sounds promising, yes? Throw in the perfect casting of Sam Shepard as the ageing Cassidy, add some jaw dropping Bolivian scenery and you've got... a film that failed - not only at the box office, but artistically as well; in spite of the fine scenery and casting of its lead.

I lay part of the blame at director Mateo Gil who all too often was at odds with himself, just as the old west fable was being replaced by cars, trains, and manifest destiny. Here he wanted to create an old style western; with horses galloping endlessly... but then he collides with Miguel Barros' script which is grounded in harsh realism (in other words, major plot points center on the fact that horses do NOT run forever).

Gil wallows in the harshness as well, with several bleak horizons, dying or dead steeds, exposure to the elements and vast vistas with nothing to see except the characters involved - paying homage to Sergio Leone and his Eastwood Spaghetti Westerns.

The story is a simple one: after hiding for 27 years, Butch discovers that his "nephew" (or possibly his son, which is never made totally clear - is the lad Butch's or Sundance's) is now orphaned in San Francisco. Having made enough money breeding horses, he decides to cash out and return to the states (and nevermind that said "orphan" nephew is now closer to 30 than 20).

Of course things don't go well - he is shot at and his horse, with all his cash and guns, runs away. This leads to the introduction of a new sidekick, a Spanish engineer named Eduardo who convinces Butch to help him out of a jam with the promise of riches. Butch doesn't want to seem mercenary, just wants to get back the 6 grand he lost due to Eduardo shooting at him, but decides to help Eduardo escape the Indians who are pursuing him (who work for the mining company that Eduardo stole 50k from).

There is a decent bonding story with some twists and turns, but the final twist is somewhat over the top; just as I found the reintroduction of Pinkerton agent Mackinley (nicely portrayed as a beaten down drunkard by Stephen Rea), while holding some nice possibilities to be sorely mishandled. That the film tries to infuse a No Country For Old Men sentiment in the interplay between Butch and MacKinley, it totally misses the mark, leaving MacKinley's justifications for his actions totally suspect.

The film also backtracks quite a bit - flipping back 27 years to those last days on the run for Butch and Sundance and the girl who loves them both. I found these passages disconcerting and lacking any dramatic flair; and once again being at odds with itself. The glossing over of the original story would indicate that director Gil assumes you know all about Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid (otherwise, why see this film at all?) - and yet by including parts of the back story (and more what-if scenarios) - he has to perforce show actors who not only do not look like Redford and Newman, but can't hold a candle to their acting chops. So Gil painted himself into a corner, creating for himself and his film a no win scenario. Too bad, for parts of the screenplay and parts of the cinematography do mesh and work quite well - which of course makes the parts that don't all the more glaring.

paul sandberg

Super Reviewer

This was rather well done......Legend has it that Butch and Sundance were killed in a shootout in Bolivia. There is a theory, however, that this legend is false. There actually seems to be evidence proving that it is more likely that Butch faked his death. This movie is based on that theory, and gives us a fictional story of what could have happened in his later years. Sam Shepard is a very fine actor, and is supported by an equally fine cast. I found this movie very interesting, and enjoyable.

Cynthia S.

Super Reviewer

Cast: Sam Shepard, Stephen Rea, Magaly Solier, Eduardo Noriega, Daniel Aguirre, Dominique McElligott, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Padraic Delaney, Cristian Mercado, Luis Bredow

Director: Mateo Gil

Summary: This Western imagines the later career of Butch Cassidy, who escapes to Bolivia where he leads a quiet life with the woman he loves. That is until he meets up with a Spanish robber who promises him one last adventure he can't refuse.

My Thoughts: "I am not familiar with the story since I'm not a big fan of westerns Although this isn't really a traditional western either. That being said, I did enjoy the movie. I found the story to very interesting and I thought Sam Shepard did an amazing job. I liked the flashbacks cause it helped those like me ,who are not familiar with the story, get the back-story on what is going on and how he came to be the way he is. Enjoyable and worth seeing."


Super Reviewer

With the world having thought him dead for twenty years, Butch Cassidy(Sam Shepard), aka James Blackthorn, can afford to relax on his ranch in Bolivia and spend some quality time with Yana(Magaly Solier). Still, he is restless and has gotten tired of waiting for Che Guevara to show up, so he sells his horses in order to return to his home country. But an altercation with Eduardo(Eduardo Noriega), a Spanish national, separates him from his horse and his money. To make it up to him and save his own life, Eduardo mentions the mine he just robbed. All of which gets Butch thinking of the old days when he used to ride with the Sundance Kid(Padraic Delaney) and Etta Place(Dominique McElligott, of "Hell on Wheels").

The best part of "Blackthorn" is the beautiful Bolivian scenery, especially the salt flats sequence. At the same time, that along with an extended cameo overshadow the lived-in and low-key performance from Sam Shepard which also fits in well with Butch Cassidy being more of a passive anti-hero this time around. But if you are going to the trouble to take a legendary outlaw like Cassidy out of cultural retirement, shouldn't one at least think of a better story that can stand on its own? For example, nothing against Bolivia of which we get some valuable history here, I think it would have worked out significantly better if this had been about Butch Cassidy already living in the United States as something of a living ghost.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Blackthorn Quotes

Butch Cassidy:
Friendship is the most valuable thing a man can have.Is worth more than money, land, horses or cattle... Might be the only thing that he never forget... It last's forever!
– Submitted by Alex M (2 years ago)
Butch Cassidy:
Rich? I've been my own man. You don't get any richer than that.
– Submitted by Martin D (3 years ago)

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