https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=685&reviewer=235

Wild Bunch, The

Reviewed By Slyder
Posted 04/11/01 12:40:13

"One of the greatest films of its genre"
5 stars (Awesome)

The Wild Bunch is basically one of the first (apart from Bonnie and Clyde), to depict the real harsh and violent world of the Wild West as it was. It's a shocking, thrilling, action pack western, way ahead of its time that shocks you for a very long time. At a time of when censorship ruled, it distinguishes itself for being a movie that depicted the reality of how we lived in those times. And thanks to those drastic realities it relies on, it burst out into one of the greatest films ever made.

Set in 1913, at a time when the Wild West was being tamed down by civilization, and few months from WWI, Pike Bishop (William Holden) is the leader of the Wild Bunch, an aged but ruthless band of criminals consisting mainly of Dutch (Ernest Borgnine), Angel (Jaime Sanchez), and Lyle (Warren Oates), and Tector Garch (Ben Johnson), and four others that go into town to set off a robbery at the administrative offices of the railroad. These are highlighted by the metaphoric symbolism of the children playing with scorpions over an ants nest, Pikes order, and the shootout between the bunch and the bounty hunters, led by Deke Thorton (Robert Ryan), and ex friend and partner of Pike, and Pat Harrigan (Albert Dekker) the guy from the railroad, that would come. Unfortunately, their efforts and loss of 4 men, comes to nothing since thy blasted outta town with a few dollars worth of washers. They hook up with Sykes (Edmond O'Brien), who was waiting in Mexico with fresh horses, and ride off deep into Mexico, seeking for one last job, to finally make it good and split it. But there, Angel finds his people struggling in the Mexican Revolution against the Federal armies, especially the stronghold of General Mapache (Emilio Fernandez). When meeting with the General and his German Allies, they offer them a job, to steal a shipment of guns the U.S. Army sends by railroad to other cities. At the same time, Deke Thorton, also figures this out and goes there to stop him, and the story goes on, into many struggles of finding the very meanings of friendship, and honor, all climaxing in the very violent end.

All throughout the movie, we see the way that violence is depicted in it, but its necessary for the movie, because if you censor it the movie would lose its magic touch. Also it would be ridiculous to censor a movie like this, because It tells you that in that time the killings of men were violent and brutal and bloody, the aftermaths were horrifying, for all that, the film has a responsibility of depicting those same things. Yes, violence is gory, and unpleasant, but unfortunately, that's the reality we live in, and as human beings we must accept it like it is because it's the truth. Fuck censorship, we can't ignore that, we can't just censor all that and make look like they were living in a dream world where the good guy wins and the bad guy dies, and nobody gets hurt. That's not the way it is, the harsh reality is that we are vulnerable, whether we are the good guys or the bad guys, we are liable to die, and yes, people will be hurt, and kids will take it as a game, they'll even turn more savage than the big people are. Its no laughing matter, it's the truth of the world we live in, and it depends on us to make it better, but we must never forget the violent realities that we are subject to. That is what the film is trying to say, to tell it like it is, to see what makes us human, and do something about it. The film was masterfully made and the plot goes along smoothly, all thanks to the Directing by Sam Peckingpah, the cinematography, the editing, and the script, which are the heart of the movie. The shootings are greatly choreographed, like some ballet, and yet it adds to the reality of the film, and the excitement never lets you go.

In the end, this film is recommended for even the most casuals of viewers, I personally think it deserves its place on the AFI's 100 greatest films, because of the message that gives, and for the thrills that delivers. I guess nothing will stop this film from being controversial, but hey, better move over because the bunch came here to stay.

© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.