Revisionist remake of classic Duke western
OPENS SEPTEMBER 3, CERT 12, 137 MINS
John Wayne’s Oscar-winning epic from 1960 gets a proficient if slightly bloodless revamp courtesy of $100m from journeyman director John Lee Hancock (replacing original director Ron Howard) and an erratic cast that veers from the sublime Billy Bob Thornton to the near-catatonic Jason Patric. It’s 1836, and 183 brave “Texians” are cornered in the titular San Antonio mission while the Mexicans are baying for blood outside. Tragedy beckons. And yet the unfashionable chest-beating patriotism of the Wayne version has been keenly excised, as has the iconic status of defenders Crockett, Travis and Bowie. Instead we have a tentative attempt at western revisionism which aims to humanise the triumvirate, but mostly drains them of colour. That leaves some rich pink-sky cinematography from Dean Semler, a few diverting gore-free skirmishes, and a standout performance from Thornton?his Crockett has both tremulous self-doubt and charisma, providing the movie with much-needed soul, and making a fine counterpoint to Wayne’s monolithic standard-bearer.