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3.7 out of 5 stars
Blackthorn
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81 of 88 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2011
Format: Blu-ray
One reviewer's blurb said: "A classic old-fashioned western, every bit as good as 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'." It is neither. It should not even be compared to that film since it's only marginally in the same genre.

There are many good things about "Blackthorn" -- Sam Shepard's acting, for instance. The scenery is also excellent, albeit dully colored. I would have chosen a better film stock. Most of the colors seemed drab and lifeless to me. That may be partially due to the generally overcast skies that were the norm in Bolivia - at least that appears to be the case when they were shooting this film. But I believe that either the film they used did not reproduce the colors well or there was something wrong with the projector at the theater in which I saw it. Yet even with the lack of color saturation, there were some spectacular vistas as our hero made his way across the country. The director made excellent use of the widescreen format.

Another interesting aspect of the movie was the back-story - the flashbacks to the early 1900's with Butch, Sundance, and Etta Place. Those flashbacks provide a possible explanation as to how Butch and Sundance survived the infamous gun battle with the Bolivian army and why they split up. Enough said about that. (No spoilers here.)

I will mention that, historically speaking, while there is evidence of two American bandits being killed in a gun battle with a few soldiers (not an entire army) and a couple others from a small Bolivian town, later DNA evidence ruled out those bandits as being either Butch or Sundance. Also, many people have stated they met with and/or knew Robert Leroy Parker (aka Butch Cassidy) after he moved back to the U.S. (using an alias, of course).

But the story and the characters were rather bleak and left me feeling as cold as Blackthorn working his way through the high mountains of Bolivia with the young criminal who owed him money.

I would recommend this film with reservations. Don't go in expecting a fast-moving story with colorful, genial characters. It is tense and somber.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2011
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
Surprised. Not by Shepard, who I've long thought is one of our great under-appreciated leading men, but by the story, the style and feel of the movie. I think I loved it. I've read some critics have called it "slow".....absolutely, its what I call a "slow burner." Not every story needs to move like a freight train.

There are a lot of ways the writer and director could have screwed this up, in just my opinion they dodged all the bullets. Like so many people I have a long term love affair with "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid," so any movie taking a stab at sequel-ing that is running on dangerous ground. But they pulled it off.

If you like sweeping scenery, genuine-feeling westerns, GREAT acting (Shepard is beyond perfect all the way to amazing) those are all reasons enough to watch Blackthorn. I paid $9.99 to watch "before its in the theaters," and it was definitely worth it for me.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2011
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
Sam Shepard is no novice to the thoughtful, landscape-driven Western. This film posits the question: What if Butch Cassidy hadn't been gunned down by the Bolivian army, but instead lived to old age in exile. It picks up with him as an old man considering a return to his long lost home, but along the way he is sidetracked, and some of his old ways (and old acquaintances) come back to haunt him.

The performances here in every way match the beauty of the landscape photography here. This is an excellent character study with a nice conversation regarding the nature of true crime.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 2011
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Well done in all respects. The scenery is fantastic, acting is excellent, story is great, and everything works. It will pull you in and keep your attention like a good book.

Really liked this one. Try it, I think you'll like it.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2011
Format: Blu-ray
"One day I woke up and found myself alone. Seemed like everyone I knew was dead or in jail, they thought I was dead too." After writing for years to her son, James Blackthorn (Shepherd) hears about Etta's death. Wanting to see his home one last time he heads out. When he meets a young robber on the trail he forms a type of friendship. The young robber begins to realize that the old man is not who he says he is, he may be riding with Butch Cassidy. This is one of the best westerns to come out in the last few years (along with "Meek's Cutoff) and is that way for one reason. Sam Shepherd is fantastic in this role. Much like Sam Elliot, Shepherd is born to be in westerns. A mix of present day and flashback scenes make this movie riveting and you are questioning if he is really Butch or not. Weather you are a fan of westerns or not this is one movie that you should watch. Overall, one of, if not the best westerns to come out in the last 5 years. Great acting by Shepherd helps. I give it a B+.

*Also try - Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid & Meek's Cutoff
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
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"Blackthorn"
(Magnolia Pictures, 2011)
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Note: mild spoilers below
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Sam Shepard stars in this moody "what if" western which asks, what if Butch Cassidy had actually survived the big ambush in Bolivia, and lived as a free man in exile? In this film, an old and grizzled Cassidy lives a humble life tucked away on a small ranch in the mountains of Bolivia. Twenty years later, when circumstances arise, he is called back to the United States and cashes out his loot in preparation of the journey. Of course, with a man of destiny such as Cassidy, nothing is ever that simple and he is soon drawn into a new adventure, involving a younger outlaw with problems of his own. The pace is pretty slow and perhaps overly-deliberate, with a notably understated performance from Shepard, and a nice appearance by Stephen Rea. Includes some gorgeous landscape cinematography of the Andean mountains and plateaus. (Joe Sixpack, Slipcue film reviews)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2012
Format: DVD
I've watched a lot of westerns in my time but this is the best yet. Well paced, great acting, great location. Many threads to this story and some surprises.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon December 30, 2011
Format: Blu-ray
Spanish director Mateo Gil delivers a tale based on the long time rumor that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid escaped the shootout with the Bolivian army in 1908. Butch (a terrific Sam Shepard), 15 years later is living in a small village in the South American country using the name James Blackthorn. He raises horses and now has enough money to return to the United States and seek out the child that was borne by Etta Place (Dominique McElligott). Etta had recently died in San Francisco. As most people familiar with the legend and/or the Redford/Newman film, Etta was a partner of Butch and Sundance (Padraic Delaney) and in more ways than one. We are left to believe there is some question as to the parentage of Etta's offspring.

There are several scenes of reflection when Butch thinks of their earlier arrival in South America. In those scenes he is played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. It is during one of these flashbacks that we learn the fate of Sundance.

Several miles into his journey Butch has an unfortunate encounter with a Spaniard who is on the run from a dozen men. Butch loses his horse and his money, so reluctantly agrees to accompany and help Eduardo (Eduardo Noriega) with the promise of securing $25,000. That is half of what Eduardo had stolen from a silver mining company. Their journey is the movie and it is not without incident and complications. The last of which seemed unnecessary to me.

In any case the Bolivian production crew does an excellent job shooting the film. The photography is as good as anything I've seen. This is a very good extension of the Butch and Sundance legend and certainly worth a look. The HD disc shows the gorgeous green Bolivian vistas in great detail. The sound is mostly upfront. There are no huge gun battles here so that should be expected.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant VideoVerified Purchase
Well...Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was, after all, something of a cliffhanger. Here we find Butch, still alive, older and perhaps wiser, brilliantly portrayed by Sam Shepard in this very thoughtful film. But this movie is filled with enough action to satisfy the real Western lover. It had me from the first scene. I was reminded of Quigley Down Under, Lonesome Dove, and Open Range. Great landscape cinematography, editing, and style make this poignant character study even more engrossing. I was happily surprised at Sam Shepard's rusty vocals on the old Americana tunes that are part of a superior musical soundtrack...who knew? The flashbacks to the old days fill in some gaps and provide that alternate ending we were all waiting for at the end of the original story of the quintessential Western dynamic duo. Loved it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 1, 2012
Format: DVD
"Blackthorn" is an interesting spin on a classic western tale. Sam Shepard is excellent playing an older version of the legendary Butch Cassidy who survives, in the movie, in Bolivia until the mid 1920s when he decides to go home and trouble ensues. The movie touches on a number of the genre's major themes--and Shepard drives the film even in its slowest parts. The supporting cast--Stephen Rea, a touchingly vulnerable Magaly Solier and Eduardo Noriega--are good. Director Mateo Gil filmed the movie in Bolvia and there are some spectacular and unique shots. Gil is smart enough not to try to remake "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and Shepard, thankfully, does not try to play Paul Newman in the film. The end did seem a bit rushed and anti-climatic.

The DVD is solid though I wish there more features. There is a fine look at the making of the film and a collection of deleted scenes--much of which, though not all of them, were rightfully cut.

While not a great film, "Blackthorn" is one of the more unique westerns that I have seen in the last half decade and fans of the genre will enjoy the movie. Shepard really holds the film together--he is one of the often overlooked gems of the last few decades.
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