Jul 15, 2019
Welcome back for the first of five Certified Fresh films this week, starting with an absolutely irresistible title for someone who loves killing Nazis, cryptozoology, and intentional film-making. It is truly a film like no other, but for a few others that might be close, check out “Mohawk” (Episode #370), “John Wick – Chapter 3: Parabellum” (Episode #490), and “The Highwaymen” (Episode #493). All three involve hunts of their own sorts, although sadly none have a sasquatch.
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Here we go!
Today’s movie is “The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot”, the RLJ Entertainment adventure film written and directed by Robert D. Krzykowski. The film follows the life of Calvin Barr (Sam Elliott), a retired military officer who secretly killed Adolf Hitler during World War II as a younger man (Aidan Turner). Now in his later years, he is pressed into service again to hunt down a sasquatch ravaging the Canadian forest, all while reminiscing on his life and its worth. And it totally works.
Picture it. A conference room. Robert D. Krzykowski, writer/director of the 2016 short “Elsie Hooper” walks in, sits down with a completed script, and begins the pitch by saying this film has two things everyone should love: killing Nazis and Bigfoot, but as a character study of the man who killed both. On the surface, it is a total B-movie script idea, that feels like more of an absurd dare than a serious pitch, something more akin to Troma or The Asylum. But as you listen to Krzykowski, he weaves a very serious tale about the costs of war, the complicated nature of the world’s problems, and a surprisingly down-to-earth protagonist dealing with pedestrian issues by comparison. He makes them not just believe the story, but believe in the story, because it’s not a story about Hitler or The Bigfoot, but The Man who killed both out of duty, not pleasure. And you know it will work, once you see the cast.
Sam Elliott is a huge part of the success of today’s film. He’s the driving force of the main story, set in the 1980s, and the lens through which we consider his younger days. Elliott’s over fifty year career, in both leading and supporting roles, on both television and in film, brings more experience and talent than precious few in the business, and he brings all of that into the role of Calvin Barr, to make him a sympathetic character in present day, which feeds the narrative and performance of his younger self by Aidan Turner. Elliott must have seen the same potential that the producers did, which explains how seriously he took this role. Even the obviously satirical or over-the-top scenes had a proper seriousness to them. It should be an award-winning performance, although it will probably be overlooked based on the title alone.
Outside of Elliott’s performance, the rest of the film has an almost surreal, perhaps Kafkaesque sense of seriousness in all of its characters. In addition to the character study of Calvin Barr, there are many other themes, mostly centering around modern day hero myths, conspiracy theories, and urban legends. We’re often thrust back into Barr’s past while the present-day story is progressing, which works most of the time to support the narrative, and only a few times felt intrusive or jarring. My major complaint was the ending, which felt rushed and somewhat perfunctory, especially after Barr kills the sasquatch. Not really a spoiler, is it? It’s right there in the title.
“The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot” is an excellent character study deftly hidden inside a b-movie premise. Robert D. Krzykowski delivers a great debut feature thanks in large part to Sam Elliott’s remarkable performance. Fans of character studies, critiques of the alpha male hero, killing Nazis, or cryptozoology should definitely check out this film. Everyone else, if you’re willing to take it seriously, then you might find a surprisingly good time.
Rotten Tomatoes: 74% (CERTIFIED FRESH)
One Movie Punch: 8.6/10
“The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot” (2018) is not rated and is currently playing on Hulu and Hoopla.