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Overall Rating
4.69

Awesome85.45%
Worth A Look: 6.36%
Average: 2.73%
Pretty Bad: 2.73%
Total Crap: 2.73%

5 reviews, 80 user ratings


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Wild Bunch, The
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by billypilgrimnz

"The best film ever made....."
5 stars

And to think, this was once thought of as controversial. Years of escalating cinematic body counts have decreased the shock of the mythical ending, but it hasn't taken away the power of this eulogy to the end of the Wild West. Holden was never better.

"We've got to start thinking beyond our guns".

So says Pike (William Holden), the nominal leader of the titular group, early into the film, after a bank hold-up goes awry. This is not the mythical "Wild West", where John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart wander around, decent and straight as an arrow. Times change, technology advances (and is gleefully embraced by some sectors of society, especially when they see the uses for entertaining and novel ways of torture), and man-on-man showdowns are becoming less pertinent and more of an outdated macho posture than anything.

And yet, this Bunch, a group of murderous thieves, know no other way, and in the end, they can only fall back on what they know, just in order to salvage a little bit of dignity, to uphold their concept of honor. If their way of life is slowly disintegrating around them, what better way to exit it than in an orgy of excess that defined those lives?

And really, what are their options? They are being tailed by a group of mangy bounty hunters, working for the railroad that they have crossed one too many times, who are as indifferent to human life as the Bunch are made out to be, shooting innocent civilians and young army men ostensibly on their side, just for money. There are no good guys, no bad guys, and somewhere along the line, the idealistic image of retirement vanishes from the men's minds, seeing as it never really existed in the first place. Their only options are to fade away into a series of tenuous robberies, promising a series of diminishing returns; allow themselves to be caught by people just as worthless as them; or to blaze away brightly, and maybe help usher in the new world with a few less despots to pillage it. Neil Young had it right. The Wild Bunch predate it.

In this land, no-one is pure, no-one is just. We see children joyously torture scorpions and ants, the reasons are not made clear, but the parallels are - what hope do the worst of men have in a world where even the children are brought up to believe in the majesty and righteousness of violence? "Even the worst of us dream of being children again. Perhaps the worst of us most of all", says an elderly Mexican man, sitting in the middle of a threadbare village, ransacked by the tide of civil war. We realise that it would make no difference.

Peckinpah, in essence, seems bent on destroying the West, not by debunking myths, but by showing what happens to the legends after the stories passed down from generation end. This is that oft forgotten epilogue; or perhaps a eulogy. The film is poetic, lusciously photographed in glorious widescreen by Lucian Ballard - the countryside seems pure and fresh, the sky luminous blue, the only blemish the clouds of dust that betray all. These men roam around in the vast expanse and yet can't seem to escape anything; not their pursuers, their past or themselves. They stand out like beacons, smudge marks on a white dress.

Holden cuts a terrifically weary, ragged figure, and he is outstanding at suggesting a man who's inherent decentness begins to reappear after years of crime and debauchery. Even more ragged is Robert Ryan as his former partner, turned pursuer, a man who seems torn between whether to kill his former comrades or to join them again. He is disgusted with the bounty hunters he is given command of, and even more disgusted with himself, though he's not sure why. Maybe he's bitter that his cowardice, his fear of prison, won't go away. Maybe he regrets not having been killed in the first place. Either way, he's literally chasing his past, and not quite sure what to do with it when it's captured. These are two of the best performances that you are likely to see in a Western, unromantic yet shifty.

Peckinpah doesn't fetishize the violence, but he doesn't shy away from it either. It's here, there, everywhere, and to downplay it would be a disservice to the story. The final sequence, made infamous at initial release, seems tame now in retrospect, at least in terms of blood and gore. But it remains untouchable in purpose, a perfect coda to a perfect film.

At the end, Thornton sits in the dirt, sits and sits. For him, it's the end of an era. For the viewers, it's seems like the end of the Western.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=685&reviewer=397
originally posted: 01/31/05 20:03:30
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User Comments

3/25/18 Jeff Wilder For my money, the greatest western of all-time. 5 stars
4/27/16 Ken A wild western classic! 5 stars
5/17/15 stanley welles a glorious and brilliant western 5 stars
4/13/15 jokerass lol 1 stars
4/13/15 jokerass lol 1 stars
2/20/15 Chris Jarmick Once edgy groundbreaking still a Western Masterpiece 5 stars
9/05/13 mr.mike A Western classic. 4 stars
3/20/13 Daniel M. Amazing western film 5 stars
4/11/11 action movie fan on second viewing the shootouts were great but hannie calder and posse were better 3 stars
2/23/11 Vlad K. Best film ever made! Peckinpah was a genius! 5 stars
9/19/10 Jack Popular with the little penis crowd 1 stars
3/30/10 PAUL SHORTT VIOLENT BUT EXCITING, STYLISH, WELL MADE AND BRILLIANTLY EDITED 5 stars
9/25/09 george webster The finest western ever made! 5 stars
1/28/08 proper amateur film critic An incredibly involving and exciting piece of cinema 5 stars
11/29/07 M. Epting a sure contender for 'the best western ever made. Holden is spectacular. 5 stars
11/25/07 g webster A classic! One of the best westerns ever.Great acting,great story! 5 stars
6/05/07 John G I saw this film when it first came out and couldn't believe how great it was, and still is. 5 stars
2/11/07 action movie fan not wild about this pointless shoot em up. no story! I don,t care much for westerns anyway 2 stars
1/20/07 AJ Muller This, Unforgiven, and Josey Wales are the best Westerns ever. Period. 5 stars
7/26/06 Sepi53 Top Ten of alltime Westerns 5 stars
5/29/06 J. Garcia One of the best films ever made. 5 stars
12/03/05 Gene Carmean Awesome 5 stars
9/13/05 ray mero Well, yes, the start of the Art of Violence by Maestro Peckinpah, but,c'mon, pure Hollywood 4 stars
9/02/05 mckeown fantastic... 5 stars
8/19/05 ES I appreciate all forms of western for me this one is a classic 5 stars
5/28/05 Strutho The Duke hated it.. Thats good enough for me! 5 stars
3/07/05 Daveman Far better than Leone's crap. 5 stars
3/04/05 Chris Stephens Great Movie!!! 5 stars
2/17/05 Dusty Johnson Great western - right there with Josie Wells. 5 stars
2/09/05 Al Guy A classic western=Dirt and grit and blood and lead. 5 stars
2/01/05 bongeezer OverKill and Kill again.... 4 stars
10/22/04 steve The last word in westerns, no one can match it. 5 stars
9/05/04 DM One of the best westerns ever made 5 stars
8/02/04 J Lamp Incredible film 5 stars
6/27/04 eric one of ten best movies ever made 5 stars
3/05/04 Peter Joly The last great Western. 5 stars
1/24/04 CC Classic..and worth a while ....see Straw Dogs 4 stars
1/12/04 Hans Westerveld masterpiece 5 stars
11/28/03 john unexpectedly powerful the charachters are as strong as the action 5 stars
11/15/03 Ultron One of the greatest westerns.... no one of the greatest films ever made. 5 stars
10/19/03 Alan Thorougly Peckinpah. 5 stars
8/19/03 AD brilliant 5 stars
5/29/03 R.W. Welch Well-acted oater though it veers towards wretched excess. 4 stars
2/11/03 Ultron Perhaps the best western ever. 5 stars
1/11/03 Paul Coleman This is probably the best American film ever made!! Peckinpah was a GOD. 5 stars
10/24/02 Charles Tatum Peckinpah was great, I even loved "Convoy" 5 stars
4/04/02 felipe it is the best film of western and william holden does one of best perfomaces 5 stars
3/27/02 Inci G. Ozay The film was masterfully made. 4 stars
3/20/02 Ben Barka Not as good as everyone pumps it up to be--there's alot of goofy male bonding/sexism/racism 3 stars
2/17/02 Clarance eah 2 stars
12/05/01 Skip Young Over-rated. I've seen it twice to see if maybe I missed something. I don't think I did. 3 stars
12/02/01 Flip Kromer Tarantino got it all from here 5 stars
10/22/01 Stanley Wesolowsky Ph.D. Best western ever made -many modes of laughter 5 stars
9/24/01 JLH Holden is great. 1 of the 3 best westerns ever. True Grit and the Professionals the others 5 stars
9/24/01 Farideh Such an important, impactful film. 5 stars
8/23/01 jerry wiegers one of the top three or four films i have seen in my life and i am 60 now 5 stars
8/18/01 Andrew Carden It Has Alot Of Trouble Getting It's Act Together. 2 stars
6/03/01 Erik North Still one of the most important movie of the 1960s--and it holds up well even now! 5 stars
5/11/01 Pike Bishop Superb 5 stars
5/02/01 mr fork fantastico 5 stars
4/16/01 Chris M. Peckinpah is the master. 5 stars
3/23/01 BigBad Responsible for every action film that followed. Best Ever!!! 5 stars
1/19/01 Marv One of the best movie ever made. I wish the Wild bunch could have rode off as heros. 5 stars
12/13/00 Chris LEACH i thought that the film was absolutely brilliant 5 stars
11/06/00 Y.E.S. I'm not a fan of westerns, but this is a good one. Final shootout is one of the best ever. 4 stars
9/20/00 Jeff Peckinpah's best, damn near flawless 5 stars
4/03/00 PJ The Greatest Western ever made, even better than The Searchers, and Rio Bravo. 5 stars
3/29/00 qbdilbert listen to "let's go..." you'll understand Holden's eyse; his companions do & so do you... 5 stars
3/19/00 Skye Chapman a piece of Americana 5 stars
1/26/00 Jericho a good movie 5 stars
8/19/99 Matthew Bartley Lets go get Angel. Strangely moving 5 stars
8/02/99 Weird Andy Muy Huevos 5 stars
4/15/99 Jon Jackson The best film from a great director 5 stars
11/26/98 Mr.Pink Best western of all time!! 5 stars
11/20/98 little jerry As crucial a film as Psycho.Hitchcock's cool & Peckinpah's heat are the decade defined. 5 stars
11/09/98 Lord Of The Dunce A great "man's movie". But more than that, western genre perfection. 5 stars
10/28/98 Silent Rob 'Kill 'em all' A perfect western, oddly enough, born out of the 60's consciousness. 5 stars
9/05/98 pooky the bald It's Peckinpah, man. Shit, what more do ya need? 5 stars
9/04/98 Badass A masterpiece! 5 stars
8/29/98 Johny See it. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  03-Mar-1994 (R)
  DVD: 10-Jan-2006

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