Movie Review: "Bone Tomahawk" (2015)

By Doctor Comrade

Bone Tomahawk suffers from the same problems of representation that many of its early- and mid-20th century counterparts did: barbaric portrayals of Native Americans under the guise of "godless savages" that need to be killed by civilized white cowboys. Unfortunately, most of the stereotypical cowboy-and-indian movies got made decades ago, and years of social progress and critical interrogation of acceptable stereotypes have prevented many of these kinds of projects from being launched in the 21st century. Unfortunately, Bone Tomahawk somehow got past the not-so-rigorous "Should we... uh... make this kind of film?" test that many scripts now fail. It's clear now why this film had to be independently financed: many studios were certainly reticent to attach their names (or money) to such an offensive and out-of-date premise.

The action sequences are fun, the gore almost plot-appropriate, and the acting is acceptable. But the movie suffers from a lack of plot, sloppy editing, a sophomoric directorial debut, and the shroud of racism that prevents the film's antagonists from being anything other than one-dimensional movie monsters. There is no intrigue, the central conflict is entirely predictable, and the film's outcome was obvious 20 minutes into the movie.

If you need to relive an era in which white people thought Native Americans were merely cannibalistic savages, then enjoy this nostalgia trap.

Final Grade: D-

Bone Tomahawk was written and directed by S. Craig Zahler, and it stars Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins, Lili Simmons, David Arquette, Sid Haig, and Sean Young. Produced by Caliber Media Company, distributed by RLJ Entertainment. Running time: 132 minutes.