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Western films, from silent to today

Hickok (2017)

Hickok (2017) DVD cover Wild Bill Hickock arrives in Abilene seven years after the Civil War with quite the reputation, but little else. He doesn’t have the money for whiskey, women or cards, let alone a good meal.

But he still has his Wild Bill bravado and smashes a bottle across the head of a young card player about to be shot for calling another man a cheat. That impresses the mayor (Kris Kristofferson) so much that he offers Wild Bill a badge.

Abilene used to be a quiet town. Now, with cattle ranchers driving their herds there and cowpokes going a bit crazy at the end of those journeys, it isn’t safe for women and children. The mayor wants Wild Bill to restore a sense of order, with as little killing as possible.

Of course, there are complications. Saloon owner Phil Poe (Trace Adkins), one of the most powerful men in town, likes Abilene wild because he makes more money that way. He tries to buy off Wild Bill and thinks they’ve reached an agreement, though it doesn’t last for long.

That’s partly because Poe is planning to marry a woman named Mattie (Cameron Richardson), not knowing that Wild Bill is her former lover. She says she doesn’t want to rekindle that old relationship; her actions sometimes seems to indicate otherwise.

Oh, and John Wesley Hardin (Kaiwi Layman-Mersereau) has arrived in Abilene too. He’s the one man Wild Bill won’t ask to take off his guns, per the new town ordinance that all men must do so inside city limits. He also might be the man Phil Poe needs to rid himself of his new nemesis.

Review:

Directed with more vim, vigor and, apparently, a bit bigger budget than most of the independent Westerns we’re treated to in the 2010s. And fans of the genre are likely to be fairly pleased with the results.

Luke Hemsworth, the older brother of Chris and Liam, does a serviceable job in the lead role, and director Timothy Woodward Jr. coaxes a far better performance from Trace Adkins than he delivered as the lead in 2016’s “Stagecoach: The Texas Jack Story.”

But Mattie’s character seems mightily confused about the future she wants, a plot twist at the end will surprise absolutely no one and several of the gunfights are poorly executed.

The film also gives us another chance to see Kristofferson and Bruce Dern in a Western, though neither saddle up. Kristofferson is the mayor who knows demons live in all men who have really lived. Dern plays an aging doctor who treats Mattie’s son for a bullet wound in one scene and Wild Bill for his failing eyesight in another.

Luke Hemsworth as Wild Bill Hickok in Hickok (2017)

Luke Hemsworth as Wild Bill Hickok in Hickok (2017)

Trace Adkins as Phil Poe in Hickok (2017)

Trace Adkins as Phil Poe in Hickok (2017)

Directed by:
Timothy Woodward Jr.

Cast:
Luke Hemsworth … Wild Bill Hickok
Trace Adkins … Phil Poe
Kris Kristofferson … George Knox
Bruce Dern … Doc Rivers O’Roark
Cameron Richardson … Mattie
Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau … John Wesley Hardin
Hunter Fischer … Joey
Robert Catrini … Sherif Akers
Britain Simons … The Kid
Kimberly Alexander … Lou-Ann
Lue Brandi … Nurse

Runtime: 88 min.

aka: “Abilene”

Cameron Richardson as Mattie in Hickok (2017)

Cameron Richardson as Mattie in Hickok (2017)

Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau as John Wesley Hardin in Hickok (2017)

Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau as John Wesley Hardin in Hickok (2017)

Memorable lines:

Whore, as a lawman holds a gun on Wild Bill: “Can I leave?”
Wild Bill to the lawman: “Let her go. She’s a fine woman. Highly talented.”

Mayor George Knox to Wild Bill: “Sometimes, it takes a good man to stop bad people.”
Wild Bill: “I ain’t a good man.”
Mayor Knox: “Son, every man’s got his demons.”

Wild Bill Hickok: “No one’s harmless with a gun and a belly full of liquor.”

Mattie: “When I was young and foolish, I thought you were dashing. And gallant. Now I see you for what you really are. You’re a liar. You’re a live for today hedonist with no ambition.”
Wild Bill: “That’s not true.”
Mattie, leaning in close, like a seductress: “And you only have one particular skill. Killing people.”

Doc: “I’ll tell you one thing — guns are good for business.”

Poe to the mayor: “If it wasn’t for my businesses, you wouldn’t have no goddamn town. You’d just blow away in the dust. Ain’t right messin’ with a man’s livelihood.”

John Wesley Hardin: “Something tells me, Poe, you aren’t an honest man.”
Poe: “Let’s just say I ain’t easy to beat.”

John Wesley Hardin: “Can I ask you something, marshal? Why you callin’ me Arkansas.”
Wild Bill Hickok: “Because if you were John Wesley Hardin, I’d have to hang you.”
Hardin: “Arkansas it is.”

Poe: “I’ll show you wild, Hickok!”

Kris Kristofferson as Mayor George Knox in Hickok (2017)

Kris Kristofferson as Mayor George Knox in Hickok (2017)

Bruce Dern as Doc Rivers O'Roark in Hickok (2017)

Bruce Dern as Doc Rivers O’Roark in Hickok (2017)

Cameron Richardson as Mattie and Hunter Fischer as Joey in Hickok (2017)

Cameron Richardson as Mattie and Hunter Fischer as Joey in Hickok (2017)

Luke Hemsworth as Wild Bill Hickok in Hickok (2017)

Luke Hemsworth as Wild Bill Hickok in Hickok (2017)

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