January 21, 2016 Diablo (Movie Review)
When one sees the words “Eastwood” and “Western” in the same sentence, they know they are in for a wild ride. The announcement of 2015’s horse opera Diablo starring Dirty Harry’s own son and veritable clone, Scott, sent fans of Westerns spinning as they imagined a brand new take on a tired genre. When Producer/Director Lawrence Roeck (The Forger 2012) teamed up with Carlos De Los Rios (Playing Mona Lisa 2000, War of the Worlds 2005) to write the script for the film, he never imagined that he would get Scott Eastwood after working with Clint on The Eastwood Factor in 2010.
Released January 8, 2016 through Space Rock Studios, Momentum Pictures, and Orion Pictures, Diablo also stars Walton Goggins, easily recognizable by genre fans from his stint as mastermind hillbilly Boyd Crowder on the FX TV show Justified and his current role as Sheriff Chris Mannix in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight (2015), along with Lethal Weapon (1987) straight man Danny Glover and When A Stranger Calls’ (2006) Camilla Belle. Jason Paradis (Inception 2010, Tucker and Dale vs. Evil 2010) and David C. Bryant (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl 2003, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines 2003) teamed up to create the natural special effects. The movie was beautifully shot by veteran Cinematographer Dean Cundey (Back to the Future 1985, Jurassic Park 1993) while Tim Williams (Devil’s Rejects 2005, Halloween 2007) and Kirpatrick Thomas (Dust Up 2012, Spindrift: Ghost of the West 2014) composed the low key, yet haunting score.
Diablo begins as Civil War veteran Jackson (Eastwood) bursts from the flames of his torched home, screaming for his wife, Alexsandra (Belle). He sees Spanish speaking men on horseback riding off into the night and he shoots at them to no avail. With single-minded intensity, Jackson mounts his horse and gives chase South toward Mexico where he assumes his wife’s captors are from. As he rides across the wintery plains, he meets a strange man named Ezra (Goggins) who appears and disappears at the drop of a hat.
The smarmy stranger has a lot to say compared to the nearly silent Jackson, who utters the phrase, “She’s been taken,” and not much else to anyone who will listen, including a trio of non-English speaking natives who tend to the man’s wounds and Benjamin Carver (Glover), an old Army buddy that Jackson goes to for help on the last leg of his journey. Along the way, in both good times and bad, Ezra appears to create his own brand of sarcastic confusion right around the time when Jackson’s acquaintances start dropping like flies. Who is this man? What does he want?
As earlier stated, the cinematography for Diablo is gorgeous, filled with wide shots of the snow covered, lonely Canadian Rockies as Jackson and his horse make their way South to Mexico. Unfortunately, the movie reveals its foreshadowed twist about halfway through its ninety minute playing time, making for an early climax that puts the second half of the movie on a steady downward slope that never really regains much enthusiasm. Eastwood plays the shocked, determined Jackson about as well as could be expected, considering his lack of speakable lines, while Glover’s short screen time shines like a bright jewel in the dark, and Goggins gives a standout performance, the perfect pick for the role of Ezra. Sadly, not even Glover, Goggins, Eastwood, or the spectacular cinematography could save Diablo from these devilish critics. CrypticRock gives Diablo 2.5 out of 5 stars.