THE WILD BUNCH

title: THE WILD BUNCH
year: 1969
rating: ***

The first half hour thrusts you into a really cool place you don't return to again. This was a purposefully anti-Western agenda: putting what would usually be a climax up front... but things seem to meander for most of the film, especially when the Bunch goes to Mexico and loses their youngest member in a death scene that nearly lasts an hour (or at least feels that way). Warren Oates and Ben Johnson, two of my favorite actors, act like Heckle and Jeckle in some scenes. William Holden holds things together dependably. And Ernest Borgnine is... Ernest Borgnine. But my favorite character is Bo Hopkins, who plays a rogue lunatic that only lasts through the opening (seen in intense flashbacks). I wish his character would have remained throughout. This Bunch needed more Wild, and he epitomized that perfectly.

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