The summer movie season has gotten off to a great start. Hellboy and Walking Tall were both serviceable flics and the long tradition of huge-budget “historical” was extended with The Alamo.
Short version: Decent flic, see it.
Having the best historical education a Midwestern public school can provide in addition to never having even met someone from Texas not withstanding this movie pushed all the right historical buttons with me. The movie is what one would expect from the telling of a factual story where everyone in the seats should already know how it turns out. Hint: Santa Ana kills everyone at the Alamo. That in and of itself is not a bad thing, what matters most in a movie such as this is how you get from point A to point B, not what either of them happen to be.
Dennis Quaid and the rest of the B-level cast all do decent jobs with the roles they were given. Colonel Travis, played by Patrick Wilson, rendered an abysmal performance. Neither the actor nor the caricature he portrayed clicked for me at all. I’m not sure if that’s by design or just bad dialog/acting. I am most definitely a fan of Dennis Quaid but his Sam Houston seemed far too subtle for what I expected of the character. He did a good job with it, as he always does, but it just seemed a shade too pale.
Not since Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow has an actor stolen the show so completely than Billy Bob Thornton’s Davy Crockett. His performance of the legendary frontiersman was absolutely masterful. He brought humor, humility and an amazing sense of sincerity to the role that made it a joy to watch. The Alamo isn’t the kind of flic that nets one an award show nominations but Billy Bob’s performance deserves one. Also: Marc Blucas (aka Riley Finn) getting shot is most pleasing to me.
The movie itself is probably the least graphic historical picture I’ve seen in a while. Even sanitized for your protection Pearl Harbor was more graphic than this movie. That said, I haven’t seen a depiction of war as visceral as this since Saving Private Ryan. I freely admit that I squirmed more than once during a few of the battle scenes. I’m not saying that’s a positive or negative, really. Different strokes and all… The fall of the Alamo was masterfully shot. Every second sold the reality of the situation these people were facing. The battle was already lost, they were all already dead men and they all knew it. None of it mattered however.