Review by Mark Merrell
Hickok Is Pistol Blazing, Action-Packed, Thrill Ride Set In The Lawless West. Featuring A Star-Studded Cast, Wild Bill Hickok Rides Off The Pages Of History Books & On To The Big Screen
Wild Bill Hickok was the stuff of legend. James Butler Hickok, Born May 27, 1837, lived a full life filled with many adventures, at time when the West was mostly undiscovered, where law existed under the rule of arguably some of the toughest, and most courageous gunslingers.
The movie opens in 1864, with Hickok (Luke Hemsworth, Kill Me Three Times, Infini, Westworld, Neighbors, The Reckoning, The Anomaly) caught up in battle during the Civil War. Hickok, fighting on the side of the Union, is pinned down under heavy gunfire from confederate soldiers. Fighting alongside him is a young boy (Britain Simons, Pandemic, Holidays) who is scared. Hickok, sums up the situation, and decides to singlehandedly take his enemy on. He gets on his horse, jumps the protective barrier, and fires away with pistols blazing. Showing his marksmanship and steady hand under pressure, Hickok takes out the enemy, but finds the young Union soldier dying, a victim of a bullet wound.
We move ahead seven years, picking up Hickok’s trail in Hays, Kansas. Asleep in a bathtub in the second floor of a saloon, with a prostitute in the bed. In walks Sheriff Akers (Robert Catrini, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Rizzoli & Isles) accusing Hickok of stealing a horse and carriage and selling them to Sam Needham (Peter Xifo, The Mentalist, Hidden America). Almost magically, Hickok gets the drop on the Sherrif, and rushes to hop the outbound train.
Hickok’s next stop is Abilene, Kansas. Heading into the town’s famous saloon, The Bull’s Head Tavern, run by Phill Poe (Trace Adkins, Traded, Deepwater Horizon, Stagecoach), a scoundrel, known for selling rot-gut whiskey, and dealing marked cards. Poe gives him a shot of his best bourbon, and invites Hickok to a card game that is in play already. Hickok agrees, but it’s not long before an inexperienced sodbuster, (Christopher Troy, Glee, Goldbergs, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend) accuses another card player of cheating. Hickok, sensing the sodbuster has overplayed his ability to defend himself, knocks him out with a bottle of scotch. Hickok, low on his luck, takes the sodbusters horse, finds some food, and hastily feeds himself.
The mayor of the town, George Knox (Kris Kristofferson, Blade, Watchmen, Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid, A Star Is Born, Planet if the Apes (2001)), likes Hickok’s style and sense of humanity, and offers him a job as the town’s Marshal, and Hickok accepts. The next day he meets again with Poe, cutting in for 25% of the house, and thus begins the very strained partnership between the two. Sparks really began to fly as Hickok is introduced to Poe’s fiancé, Mattie (Cameron Richardson, Open Water 2, Rise: Blood Hunter, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Hard Breakers).
Hickok also crosses paths with one of the West’s most notorious outlaws, John Wesley Hardin (Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau, Westworld, American Violence, Amityville Terror). Add into this mix the town Doctor, Doc Rivers O’Roark (Bruce Dern, Django Unchained, Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid, The Cowboys, Will Penny, Hush.. Hush Sweet Charlotte), and you have a recipe for one heck of an action packed western
Director Timothy Woodward Jr. (American Violence) brings us his second Western (Traded) working again with stars Kris Kristofferson and Trace Adkins. Dern and Kristofferson also notably acted together in Sam Peckinpah’s 1973 classic western, Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid. Woodward’s direction is fantastic, creating an evenly paced feature, and allowing this star-studded cast to shine.
Written by Michael Lanahan (Perfect Target, Jocks, Southern Heat, Raspberry Heaven) he gives us a taste of Hickok’s plight and the frameworks of his legacy. Hickok faced many the same issues as other lawman of the time, notably the Earps who served in Dodge City, Kansas and latter in Tombstone, Arizona.
All of the actors provide an edge of your seat exciting movie, with plenty of drama and surprises as well. Adkins is very convincing, and you can absolutely feel his pent-up anger. Hemsworth provides a suave, yet gritty Wild Bill Hickok. Charming and funny at times, romantic, and a bad-ass at others. Dern, a true professional, holds the screen so well with that look and delivery that sent him to stardom. When Kristofferson gets pissed off, you feel it big time. At one point, Kris starts a slow smile that won’t allow you to do anything but smile back. True magic.
Kaiwi’s portrayal of John Wesley Hardin was perfectly captivating, as was Richardson’s of her character, Mattie. Other standouts include Hunter Fischer as Joey, who was superb, Bertrand-Xavier Corbi as Sullivan, and Max Bognar playing the part of Jenkins, the town’s preacher and undertaker. The entire cast were brilliant.
Leaping from the pages of the old west, Hickok is a very entertaining and interesting look at the life of Wild Bill. HICKOK, in Theaters, On Demand and Digital HD on 7/7.