Bite the Bullet - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Bite the Bullet Reviews

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September 29, 2016
A bit melodramatic, but it had its moments.
March 21, 2016
A slower paced, yet typical western of its period. Gene Hackman and James Coburn make the film.
Super Reviewer
½ January 3, 2016
A thrill ride from start to finish. Even if you are not fond of the Western genre, you will probably enjoy this film about a grueling horse race across brutal terrain.
Super Reviewer
September 5, 2015
At the beginning of the 1900's a horse race across the American West is the hub this tale spins on, it's spokes a good cast of charismatic regulars. But director/writer Richard Brooks has a little more on his mind than simply a horse race and those liberal causes are what the piece is really about. Racism, the humane treatment of animals, feminism, the humane treatment of humans, all that's missing here is a scene of hippies passing a joint while a Joan Baez song plays. If you can get pass or forget the "let me tell you something" tone of the piece, you've got a nicely done oater.
July 31, 2015
Incredibly ridiculous movie. A cliché of characters. Created situations. Created partnerships. Scenarios supplied to show sentiment for the races. Over all a grandstanding attempt at getting attention. Bluster, pure bluster. The love for the actors themselves was all that held it together.
½ August 14, 2014
My rating would have been higher, but this movie about a horse race lacked one important thing--the characters and history of the riders was very well developed, as was their attitudes towards many issues such as cruelty to animals, honor, racism, male chauvinism, but the important thing they left out is what is so vital in any horse race, the relationship between horse and rider. The horses in this pic were indistinguishable from each other and used almost interchangeably, as if they were some kind of inanimate motor vehicle. This movie was made prior to Hidalgo, one of my favorite horse race movies, but is not as good, because Hidalgo has horses with personalities and varied relationships with their riders. In any horse race, the horse is of equal, if not more, importance than the rider.
Cameron W. Johnson
Super Reviewer
½ June 17, 2014
"Another one bites the bullet, another one bites the bullet; and another one gone, and another one gone; another bites the bullet!" Man, that's a lazy reference, but then again, the song was a little lazy to begin with, though not necessarily when this film came out, because it's somehow older than the song in question. You know, I was wondering why Gene Hackman retired a whole decade ago, if he did, in fact, quit because of his age, but he was getting up there back in 1975, so at any time, he might really bite the bullet. Yeah, if this film's title is a metaphor for death, then it's a little more comprehensive than "bite the dust", although it might just be telling us that Gene Hackman is so awesome that he can catch a bullet with his teeth. To be an old dude who has never been young, Hackman is still a man I wouldn't want to cross, unless, of course, I was Superman or something. In retrospect, it is a little hard to take Hackman all that seriously in this film, when he was about three years away from getting his butt kicked by a flying alien in tights, but make no mistake, in this film, he's a good deal more groovy than Queens' "Another Bites the Dust"... if not the term "groovy". Of course, the film isn't too shabby either, although, unlike Hackman, it can get a little cheesy.

There is the occasional cheesy set piece to plague filler, while dramatic material goes plagued by some histrionics, or at least dramatics which feel histrionic under the influence of a rather sentimental atmosphere. These consistently unsubtle and occasionally slightly cloying sentimental atmospherics reflect an overambition, until laziness is reflected in atmospheric dry spells, which dull down momentum in a film that is slow enough without a certain chilling quietness that blandly meditates upon storytelling a little too much. The slow spells at least allow you to meditate upon the familiarity of the narrative itself, because even though this is a '70s western, it feels a little too eager to dig up '60s formulas to plotting and characterization which could have at least been meaty if it was to be conventional. With its memorable characters and certain worthy dramatic themes, this project could have molded a juicy narrative, but the story concept, as a minimalist character study that is highlighted by some kind of an extensive segment, is ultimately lacking in consequence, but evidently not material. Running 131 minutes, this film of limited consequence still goes dragged out, with excess filler and material that, rather than livening things up, allows you to further meditate upon things like the natural shortcomings and sentimentality, through all of the genuinely strong aspects. The film opens reasonably strong, sheerly in feel, alone, and throughout the body is moments in which the palpable ambition truly delivers, but at the end of the day, the ambition mostly stresses the shortcomings, consequential and natural, until the final product ends up losing so much momentum that is slips shy of rewarding. That's a shame, as this film could have really been something, yet as things stand, it endears in spite of its flaws, partly with a certain artistic taste.

Like I said, there's a certain flavor of the '60s left in this '70s western, particularly in a score by the great Alex North that, despite conventions and sentimentality, is lovely in only slightly coloring up '60s sensibilities with scoring advancements that were beginning to come to form in the '70s. Harry Stradling Jr.'s cinematography is also lovely, if a little dated, with flat spells that are broken up by a realized palette which anchors the beauty of certain nifty visuals that are established by near-immersive art direction by Robert Doyle. There is indeed a certain immersion value even within the film's style, subtle though it may be, and when it comes to substance, no matter how thinly or formulaically it goes handled, it carries a potential that is reflected in the film carrying wit and dramatic elements as a portrait on man's interactions with his environment and his peers, anchored by memorable characters who are themselves anchored by memorable performances. There's not too much material to this film, therefore there's not too much too the performances, but charisma is found across the board, with solid chemistry and dramatic highlights that do a lot to define the heart of this colorful human drama. Leading man Gene Hackman is particularly charming and genuine in his portrayal of a good-hearted rider seeking respect, as well as the respectable, which leaves Hackman to all but carry the film as an audience avatar who adds to the intimacy of the drama. Richard Brooks' direction is arguably most instrumental in establishing a sense of intimacy, which is ironically challenged by ambitious sentimentality and limp atmospheric cold spells, yet is adequately sustained by a certain realization to the plays on anything from decent action to subtly thoughtful dramatic highlights, if not haunting visuals, that just about grip in their shining a light on what could have been. Again, this film could have gone a pretty respectable distance, and although it ultimately falls short of doing so as often as it probably should, it gets there enough times for the final product to compel the patient just fine.

Bottom line, there's something a little minimalist about this dramatically promising story, and it grows harder to deny that the more sentimentality, dry spells and excessive dragging slow momentum, to the point of holding the final product shy of a rewarding state, flirted with enough by lovely scoring and visual style, some worthy story elements, strong performances - particularly that of Gene Hackman - and inspired direction to make "Bite the Bullet" a decent and sometimes gripping western drama, despite lost potential.

2.75/5 - Decent
February 17, 2014
The last of the great Westerns.
½ November 23, 2013
For a movie about a cross country race this surprisingly can be quite a slow and boring at times. It doesn't help that the characters involved are not that endearing although James Coburn on one of the world's first motorbikes is good fun.
December 24, 2012
Filme antigo de bang bang... Uma corrida de cavalos, onde aquele que está menos preocupado com a corrida é quem acaba ganhando!
½ April 27, 2012
The Cannonball Run of Westerns from the director of The Professionals and starring the acting duo from the brutally grim The Hunting Party, Gene Hackman & Candice Bergen. Centering around The Western Press race of 1906, Hackman is an ex-Rough Rider who really loves horses but his good natured ways come into conflict with a batch of cow punching manly men like James Coburn, Ben Johnson, Ian Bannen, Jan Michael Vincent, and Dabney Coleman. It's a manic Western that jumps from kooky barroom brawls to attempted rape to PETA level moralizing with delightful ease and despite it's overlong narrative and misplaced third act chain gang, Bite The Bullet is an under appreciated flick that deserves your love. VF.
April 6, 2012
Decent little Western. Shocked to see a young Candice Bergen. She played a real dumb women in the movie, but it was the "Old West", lol. Gene Hackman is ALWAYS good!
April 3, 2012
I don't know how I fully feel about this film. Obviously a talented cast play only partially developed characters. We don't get to learn enough about supporting characters like those played by Bannen and Ben Johnson. We get only bits and pieces for everyone and also an anticlimactic finish.
December 10, 2011
Bite the bullet has breathtaking visuals, several intriguing characters and an endurance race that spans the almost entire length of the movie itself.
The horses trek miles through mountains, deserts and rivers over several days to reach the finish point first, for a prize pot of 2000 dollars. The racers are an interesting bunch.
One is a Mexican with a tooth ache, another, a kid who mouths profanities every second and treats horses like slaves.
There is a Miss Jones, the tough female racer who is doing it for her convict-husband. Then there is Sam Clayton (Gene Hackman) who loves horses, even stays back for people who fall ill or get hurt during the race, kind of a cowboy messiah.
Its got everything going for one hell of a picture, but let me remind you that its an endurance race that crosses 2 hours on the screen. :)
We start to really feel it by then.
½ August 5, 2011
For long sections of this film it seems people are doing nothing except for riding around on horses. Some concise editing wouldn't have gone a-miss. Gene Hackman's character could have been quite interesting if he'd been explored in a well-made film, but as it is he features in an odd, dull and unmemorable western that I wouldn't recommend to anyone and certainly wouldn't watch again.
½ July 7, 2011
Good story about a 700 mile race through the desert n mountains. Gene Hackman is the man
May 29, 2011
Decent Western about a 700 mile horse race trough rough country. With a little more humor this film could have worked as a pre cannonball run film.
But it is a serious film, a little too serious so it gets a little dull since the plot ain`t all that captivating. Gene Hackman is as always on top of his game.
May 19, 2011
Pretty good modern Western, based on a historic 700-mile horse race sponsored by a major newspaper around the turn of the century. Gene Hackman and James Coburn play old cowhands, former soldiers having served in Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders, but now fallen on hard times. Candice Bergen, Jan Michael Vincent and other assorted characters also compete for the purse. Director Richard Brooks adopts a no-nonsense and almost lyrical directorial style, allowing the story to take its time to unfold and reveal each character's flaws and motivations. Some beautifully shot set pieces highlight the beautiful horses seemingly pushed to the limits of their endurance - at times its hard to watch these fine animals worked so hard, but at least Hackman's character shows them some sympathy.
½ October 14, 2010
½ September 24, 2010
Pretty decent, good characters and a some good themes, including messages about animal cruelty which I like.
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