Pike (William Holden) is the leader of the wild bunch, a group of mercenaries living in the dying days of the west. They are hunted down by Thornton (Robert Ryan) who was once part of the Wild Bunch himself. Pike realises that the Wild Bunch lifestyle cannot last forever and wants to do a “last job”, stealing weapons for a Mexican general, that would make them wealthy. One of Pike’s partners is Angel (Jaime Sánchez), a young Mexican who doesn’t feel comfortable with the idea of giving guns to someone who is oppressing his people. So a deal is secretly worked out whereas they will allow Angel to take one crate of rifles to the freedom fighters. But the general finds out, and then all hell breaks loose.
Released 42 years ago today, The Wild Bunch changed the western genre forever. Director Sam Peckinpah’s movie was accused at the time of being overly violent (and glorifying that violence), macho and mysogynistic, not exactly alien terms to Pekinpah. It is a violent movie, but it is also so much more than that. The first movie is beautifully shot, especialy in the dersert vistas and more importantly from a historical point of view, it was the first film to really utilise slow-motion in action sequences, and has been rarely equalled since. The Matrix, John Woo, Tarantino and a slew of action film makers owe a huge debt to this film.
Warner Brothers are (obviously) planning a remake although there doesn’t appear to be anyone attached to the project at present. The success of the recent ‘True Grit’ remake will no doubt hasten them to get it out asap.
Here’s a cool stat: The wild bunch used over 90,000 rounds of blank ammunition. “More than was used in the entire Mexican revolution” Warner publicity would later claim.
“Super 8 is about a monster who is an Alien. It is about some kids who film stuff; they’re filming a guy talking to a girl when a big train crashes. And it’s very loud when the train crashes. The movie they’re making is about zombies, fake zombies and models. It’s about ‘little metal heavy things’ that shake and fly and crash through walls and posters. It’s about army men and army tanks. My favourite bit is when (lead character) Joe sees something in the cemetery and when all the metal boxes, and bikes and cars get stuck on the water tower. The movie is very scary when Alice crashes on her bike and her dad crashes his car; the other really scary part is when the monster alien gets into a bus and attacks people. Really little kids will be too scared.”
2½ stars out of 5