Starring: Luke Hemsworth, Kris Kristofferson, Trace Adkins, Kaiwi Lyman
Director: Timothy Woodward Jr.
Mood: If you did something really bad and feel like you don’t deserve to watch anything remotely entertaining while you sit at home denying yourself beer and thinking about what you did.
TL; DR: Do not watch this steaming pile of crap. Save yourselves!
I watched Hickok twice. I try to be extra fair when I’m going to shit all over a movie – opinions are like assholes, and at any given moment I’m brimming with tiny, angry assholes. Only a handful of people have to experience those assholes in stereo (sorry, David). But since I started this website, I have to be mindful of this whole new platform for asshole-spreading.
So before I turn my assholes loose on the world, I give the movies in question a second chance. Maybe it was just my mood that day. Maybe I was hangry.
Nope. Sorry, Hickok. You were even worse the second time, because I was paying more attention.
Also, I’m hoping that 99% of readers were so put off by my crude opening paragraphs that they tapped out. This movie really doesn’t deserve much in the way of a review, but for those of you who persevered… here we go.
The below image sums up Hickok’s lead, Luke Hemsworth. Here’s the man whose job it was to burrow into his extremely famous character, bring that man to life in a captivating way, and drive the plot forth:
“Who is the other Hemsworth?” Even Google has an asshole opinion on the pecking order of the Hemsworth brothers and their talent.
Hickok opens on a promising note, on a Civil War battlefield. There’s gunfire galore, centred around a Gatling gun, and great slow-mo shots of bodies exploding with bullets. A silhouetted man on horseback leaps into the fray, and you think, here’s our hero! What an entrance! Very American Outlaws.
If you stop watching right there, Hickok is good. Step any further into the movie, and the flaws will slap you upside your face from all angles.
Everything about Hickok feels too modern and new, like zero percent 1870s. Minimal effort seems to have gone into the costumes, hairstyles, or sets. And don’t get me started on the acting.
Just kidding. This is my review, so you’d best believe I’m coming for the acting.
James Butler “Wild Bill” Hickok was a tall, handsome gunfighter with long hair and an effeminate voice – and he was a F*CKING LEGEND.
The dude’s adventures included drover, wagon master, soldier, spy, scout, lawman, gunfighter, gambler, and actor. He was a gifted showman, who exaggerated or outright fibbed about so much of his own life that it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. It should be impossible to make anything about him boring.
And yet, we have the shorthaired, moustache-free Hemsworth in the most unconvincing Western role I’ve seen this year. Seriously. He didn’t in any way evoke Wild Bill or the period. At best he was a Southern college guy who learned gunspinning so he’d have a cool a party trick.
Trace Adkins wasn’t much better as Phil Poe. He’s got a great voice, and I could listen to him for hours – as long as he didn’t speak the lines from this movie. With his long, shiny ponytail and dazzling white teeth (in the final fight scene they literally glow in the dark), there was zero connection to the real Phil Coe.
I initially thought they should have cast Adkins as Wild Bill, but then I watched Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story and realized he, too, can’t carry a lead.
Kaiwi Lyman, who played outlaw John Wesley Hardin, stood out as the best (and only solid) supporting actor. I sincerely wish he’d been given the role of Hickok. Actually, scratch that – I won’t wish another version of this movie on him. I’d like to see him lead a Western with a decent script.
The performances in Hickok came across as uncomfortably fake, as if no research was done into the real-life men behind the characters. You know it’s bad when the non-speaking bad guy actors are more convincing than the main cast.
The writing is partly to blame. The dialogue reads more 2019 small town crime TV series. Plus, Hickok’s taglines focus around this being “the true story” behind the legend. I’m sorry, but that flake of truth is so tiny you’d need a microscope to spot it. They changed 90% of the details and timeline around Hickok’s presence in Abilene, his entire ‘relationship’ to Hardin, Coe’s name, how he died, and so many other details that it’s like… is that tagline even legal?
I want to be nice and say that if the movie was better cast it would have worked, but that would be bullshit. It would also be lies to say the actors did everything they could with a bad script. There’s no needle in this flaming haystack of sewage. Like I said, don’t watch it! Treat yourself to Keith Carradine’s flawless Wild Bill in Deadwood, or puzzle your brain with Jeff Bridges’ not-quite-as-terrible Wild Bill.
I came into Hickok ready to love it, because Wild F*cking’ Bill! The DVD has already found its way into a donation bin. Byeeeee.