Dead for a Dollar (2022)

Dead for a Dollar (2022)

Movie Details

Movie: Dead for a Dollar (2022)
Director: Walter Hill
Cast: Christoph Waltz, Willem Dafoe, and Rachel Brosnahan
Genres: Western/Thriller
Release date: 30 September 2022
IMDB Rating: 5.4/10
Language: English and Spanish
Duration: 1h 56m


Dead for a Dollar (2022)


There was a time when Westerns looked very bad. Not that we see Wild West stories in theaters twice a month now, but the genre isn’t in nearly as bad shape as it was a few years ago. Of course, this is also helped by the popularity of more modern neo-westerns, series like Yellowstone, and the willingness to shoot these things on a smaller scale and for viewers who are willing to look for them elsewhere than in cinemas. Dead for a Dollar is exactly that. It has its qualities, in certain ways, it can impress at first glance, but in reality, it is a very small film for an essentially quite specific audience. The kind that will be willing to forgive him a lot of things.

Hollywood classic and lover of bad boy stories, Walter Hill, in his eighties, is probably fulfilling his dream of making one more Western. Realistically speaking – we probably won’t see many more films from him, so he has the right to ditch Hollywood and simply enjoy himself as a filmmaker. Dead for a Dollar shows right from the start that it is a project from someone who has a penchant for Westerns and has a weakness for them. Bounty hunter Max Borlund is to find Rachel Kidd, who has been kidnapped by a black soldier. At least that’s how his new employer presents it to him. But Max quickly discovers that things are a little different, that his client can be a real bitch, and that the town where he found Rachel is ruled by the uncompromising Tiberio Vargas and his gang. And that his old nemesis Joe Cribbens happened to wander in here too. It’s only a matter of time before the shooting starts

Dead for a Dollar is one big wait for the final shootout. And waiting is somewhat problematic. Walter Hill conceived his new film as an old-world spectacle and homage to the more bland Westerns of the 1950s and 1960s, and of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. But apparently, he didn’t have enough money to make his movie look… well, like a movie. And that’s a bit of a problem. A story about a town where a lot of people die very soon is not eye-catching and looks very cheap. And I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of viewers decided to turn Dead for a Dollar off after a few minutes because of it. But that would be a shame.

Once you get used to the fact that this little western looks worse than the average series, reasons to watch it start to appear. As an actor, it’s downright a treat. Waltz’s man hunter soon begins to show himself not as a professional tough guy, but as a good guy, who is also more into it than those around him would expect. Willem Dafoe enjoys his villain, who is evil mainly because it is expected of him, and Rachel Brosnahan manages to be a strong woman in a man’s world with absolute conviction. Benjamin Bratt will also please me, whom I always thought was a bit of a scumbag, but as the years went by, his charisma seemed to grow. And waiting for everyone to divide up who will share it with whom in the final is quite fun thanks to the performances of everyone involved, the interesting characters of their heroes, and the nice dialogues. And then the shooting starts.

It would be very naive to expect a big action spectacle in such a small film, on the other hand, Hill doesn’t do well with it, he can be brutal and, above all, he doesn’t try to shoot “nicely” here at all. The game is not fair here, and there will be no fights at high noon. This is a fight for life, every advantage counts, and shooting an unprepared law enforcement officer in the head in the middle of his monologue about the importance of law and the law is perfectly normal…

Overall, Hill isn’t inventing anything new here. He didn’t even try and just made a small western for fun in the style of those he grew up with which shaped him as a filmmaker. That it’s a bit ugly, unoriginal, and not entirely imaginative? He probably didn’t care. He made Dead for a Dollar for himself and he can probably be satisfied. And if you are willing to overlook the cheapness and predictability and instead enjoy the fact that genre clichés are used in the right way and people who master their profession flawlessly have gathered in front of the camera, you can enjoy it too. In short, for your own sake, don’t expect anything beyond old-school craftsmanship.

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