Butch and Sundance. Famous outlaws of the American Frontier West of the later 19th century and early 20th. They also have a famous last stand, or did they? Blackthorn brings up the possibility of what if Butch Cassidy didn’t die and just lived out the rest of his days in Bolivia. So now old and weary what does this Blackthorn want and why should we care?
James Blackthorn has lived a quiet life after the death of his old alias Butch Cassidy. He has been raising horses and lives with the local natives of the area. He’s even found himself a nice, young native woman to be with from time to time. But for him it’s now time to go back to the States from where he came. He found out he might have a son and wants go and meet him.
So Blackthorn goes and sells all his horse and gathers as much money as he can and then when he has everything going for him he runs into a Spaniard that scares his horse and it runs away with all his money. Blackthorn now enraged almost kills the Spaniard Eduardo until he offers to share his treasure of Bolivian Silver that he stole as repayment. Now Blackthorn and Eduardo have to outrun the gangs and lawmen-giving chase.
Blackthorn is a very beautiful film to look at. The sprawling settings of Bolivia are captured in rich color and great composition. The director Mateo Gil did a fantastic job with this film. Blackthorn throughout has flashbacks to Butch Cassidy in his younger days with The Sundance Kid and Etta Place. Those flashbacks are placed at moments where you see reflection by the character and works for the audience since it lays down exposition on the characters past that some people might not be familiar with.
Sam Shepard is great as this grizzly old man who has walked away from his past life yet is forced to reclaim it right as he wants to start a new one again. Shepard plays it well. Blackthorn doesn’t fell like an invincible old outlaw but like a man filled with regret and just enough left in him to be a threat to those that stand in his way.
Eduardo Noriega is also fun as Eduardo, the Spaniard Engineer who stole silver from a mine he worked at. He’s very likable and you grow to like their partnership as a new Spanish Sundance for old Butch Cassidy. He’s a great foil for Blackthorn’s jokes and smarter ways of navigating the Bolivian landscape.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays the younger Blackthorn in the flashbacks and does so very well that you buy him in the role of Butch Cassidy, which is hard being that in so many minds that is Paul Newman.
In the end Blackthorn is very good western that shows a classic western outlaw hero in a new light but in a very familiar type of story. Even though it is very much worth your time in the theater.
FINAL GRADE: B +
Originally published on Reel Film News