Review: Bone Tomahawk shoots into Austin

by Alex White, Austin Film Correspondent for

Tired of watching old westerns on TV? Want to catch a new one starring Kurt Russell in theaters? Well, if you’re an Austinite you’re in luck!

Fresh off its successful world premiere at Austin’s own Fantastic Fest, Bone Tomahawk arrives in Austin on Friday at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar with just the right dose of nostalgia and butt-kickery to offset the gloomy weather outside.

Written and directed by S. Craig Zahler and starring the aforementioned Russell, Patrick Wilson, Matthew Fox, and Richard Jenkins, Bone Tomahawk brings the often neglected genre of the western back into theaters with a modern twist that will help the film to appeal to both the young and old.

While still set in the old west, Bone Tomahawk features a bit more graphic violence and blood than your Daddy’s old John Wayne westerns. There are plenty of moments where those with queasy stomachs may have to turn away for a moment but the rest of the story is so quickly paced that those queasy moments will hardly leave a mark on the viewing experience.

The strength of Bone Tomahawk lies in the performances from the aforementioned cast. Russell plays the determined (and sometimes hot tempered) Sheriff Franklin Hunt with his usual bravado that has led him to become a cinema legend. That being said, the performance that steals the show is that of Jenkins as the backup deputy Sheriff Chicory.

Jenkins’ often comedic yet emotional performance helps create a necessary sense of comic relief when the film gets to its most dark and visually disturbing points. Chicory’s presence as a character doesn’t let any sort of negative feeling linger too long and allows the film to maintain its brisk pace.

That’s not to count out the important and strong performances from the rest of the cast especially Patrick Wilson. When Arthur O’Dwyer (played by Wilson) finds out his wife (Lili Simmons) has gone missing along with the actual Sheriff’s Deputy, it’s O’Dwyer who becomes as central a figure in this twisted western tale as anyone.

It’s that rotating focus on each lead character that makes Bone Tomahawk truly work. Every character feels important and necessary to the story and has their time in the spotlight which allows them to fully develop on screen.

While Bone Tomahawk is largely a success, the debut feature from Zahler is not without its flaws. Some of the blood and gore completely eliminates the film from being remotely appropriate for anyone younger than their early teens and some aspects of the cinematography, particularly some shot framing, feel inadequate. That being said, if you see this film with an age appropriate audience you’ll enjoy what you see just fine.

Thanks to an expert cast and strong writing, Bone Tomahawk should excite those who are looking to add something new to their love of old western films and perhaps more films like it are to come in the future…western fans can only hope.

Bone Tomahawk Official Trailer _1 (2015) - Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson Movie HD

  • Video Release: October 14, 2015
  • Length: 2.60 min
  • Views: 0

Kurt Russell in BONE TOMAHAWK

Kurt Russell in BONE TOMAHAWK


Larry Richman

Larry Richman

For 20 years I was a professional in the entertainment industry, from commercial broadcast radio in America's fourth largest market to band management to record production. But my passion is independent film, and I spend much of the year traveling to film festivals to see indies and meet the actors, directors, and others responsible for creating them. I'm a writer, photographer, and videographer, currently serving as Senior Vice President for Media & Technology and Public Relations at PROnetworks as well as Editor at

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  • Author: Larry Richman
  • Posted: October 23, 2015
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