First Watch: Bone Tomahawk

Bone Tomahawk is a cannibal-western movie that derives it’s name from the weapon of choice used by the cannibalistic “troglodytes” or cave people that brutally murder or kidnap (with the intent of keeping the ‘meat’ fresh for later brutal dissection and feasting) almost every single named character in the movie at one point or another. The name of the movie is what drew me in, though looking back I have no idea why. Sometimes I just get lucky.

Bone Tomahawk is a cannibal-western movie that derives it's name from the weapon of choice used by the cannibalistic "troglodytes" or cave people that brutally murder or kidnap (with the intent of keeping the 'meat' fresh for later brutal dissection and feasting) almost every single named character in the movie at one point or another. The name of the movie is what drew me in, though looking back I have no idea why. Sometimes I just get lucky.

It stars, in almost equal parts, Kurt Russell, Matthew Fox, Richard Jenkins, and Patrick Wilson. They play four hardy western settlers who venture out on an acknowledged suicide mission to rescue loved ones who have been taken from their town by the sadistic native villains.

For the most part, Bone Tomahawk is a character study of these four men. The first two-thirds reveals very little of the cannibals they are seeking and instead reveals the inner demons that plague these men's past and present. Richard Jenkins was easily the standout for me. His bumbling Chicory slowly reveals himself to be the most balanced and stable of the group. I didn't even recognize him as Richard Jenkins until almost half way through the movie. All of the performances were terrific, really. Kurt Russell was born to play an old curmudgeonly sheriff fighting against cannibal cave dwellers, and Matthew Fox is always fluttering near total campiness but somehow stuck this role.

Bone Tomahawk is the most character-driven cannibal-western you will ever see. I believe, because of that, it has something for everybody (or at least all adults) instead of not enough for anyone, which I could easily see being the criticism of this movie. The final act is a serious bloodbath and while it may not be surprising, it is still satisfying.

Overall, Bone Tomahawk was a very enjoyable movie. Mainly because of the back and forth between well developed characters but also because it features some shocking violence and brutal imagery. It is an unflinching account of a feeble rescue party's attempt to do the right thing by facing their own demons as well as the demons in the hills of the Wild West.