Studio: Epic Pictures
Director: Robert D. Krzykowski
Writer: Robert D. Krzykowski
Producer: Robert D. Krzykowski, Patrick Ewald, Shaked Berenson, Lucky McKee
Stars: Sam Elliott, Aidan Turner, Caitlin FitzGerald, Rizwan Manji, Larry Miller, Ron Livingston, Nikolai Tsankov, Ellar Coltrane, Sean Bridgers, Mark Steger
A WWII veteran with a legendary past is challenged to take an unexpected assignment that interrupts his contemplative life.
“The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot” easily bolts away with the jeweled scepter for most must-see movie based solely on title. For good or for bad however, there’s a fair chance that “The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot” isn’t the movie those words might shape in your mind. That’s largely because Calvin Barr isn’t quite the mythic man that moniker makes him out to be.
Early impressions cut Calvin from familiar cloths. Quiet days spent with his dog rarely involve more excitement than downing the pills from his Monday-Sunday plastic container. As old as he may be, Calvin’s instincts still permit him to subdue sudden assailants, even though he prefers to avoid confrontation altogether. Calvin is also compassionate, willing to donate the last dollars in his pocket to a random beggar. He won’t even replenish his wallet when he finds a winning lotto scratcher on the street, because that dropped money wasn’t his to begin with.
That’s part of the picture. Although he ponders his past regularly, Calvin doesn’t necessarily dislike his current life of small town serenity. He has merely reconciled himself with complacency, content to remain anonymous in spite of his secretly celebrated accomplishments.
But neither the American nor Canadian governments will let sleeping legends lie. When a Sasquatch carrying a devastating plague threatens to exterminate life throughout North America, humanity’s best hope for a non-nuclear resolution rests with the soldier who covertly assassinated the fuehrer. To take on this impossible mission, Calvin must become more like the man he used to be, even if it requires sacrificing more of the soul he desperately desires to hold on to.
At the film’s outset, there’s a hint that “The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot” will have a spry step and sly twinkle in its eye. Billy Squier’s “Lonely Is the Night” sets a slight 1980s rock stage before a flashback shows undercover Calvin sporting a watch with a ticking swastika instead of minute and hour hands. That’s one of the last visual chuckles in a movie whose premise promises flickers of midnight movie moxie, but whose actual agenda is far more grounded in quiet contemplation.
“The Man Who Killed Hitler” isn’t an energetic war epic. Despite the title, it isn’t really a Bigfoot-related movie either. In fact, a valid argument can be made that it barely qualifies as a genre picture at all. Before it can be considered anything else, “The Man Who Killed Hitler” is an exploratory character drama about a man encountering a crossroads where past, present, and future reflect and converge, challenging Calvin to assess his identity as well as his relationships to everything around him.
As such, you’re unlikely to find the intrapersonal study to be particularly kinetic. Yet once you accept that the movie isn’t an outright adventuresome romp, sentimentality and intelligent introspection play effectively on both sympathy and empathy in increasingly unexpected ways.
What is rightly expected of course is that few of the movie’s successes would be possible without another enigmatic performance from authentic legend Sam Elliott. Calvin is a subdued sort of (anti)hero, which suits Elliott’s performance subtleties perfectly. Elliott adjusts Calvin’s dials as needed, never more, never less, to tune a character who deliberately doesn’t deliver outwardly as much as he asks viewers to dig inwardly into him.
While not a reflection on the otherwise capable acting abilities of Aidan Turner, who plays Calvin in plentiful flashbacks, he naturally has a hard time going mustache to mustache with Elliott’s incarnation. Several 1940s segments drag to the point where Elliott’s absence becomes more noticeable than any onscreen activity. That the movie can have a tough time treading water while waiting for Elliott to reappear is as much of a comment on its weakness as it is a compliment regarding its greatest strength.
Along a similar line, “The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot” features so many scenes of metaphoric meanings and meditative conversations that some pointed musings turn into uncertain ramblings. The script has a tendency to wander away every once in a while, taking attention spans along with it.
But whether the arrows of intent strike their targets or not, emotional honesty keeps cinematic integrity high. Joe Kraemer’s excellent, piano-heavy score amplifies the melancholy mood created by the cast. In tandem with Robert D. Krzykowski’s direction, everyone collectively crafts a calm story amidst a minor maelstrom of creature feature mechanics that serve a purpose of enlightenment over matinee entertainment.
Keep in mind that the movie you might want “The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot” to be may not be the movie it is. It’s the kind of film that many, myself included, may have to experience more than once in order to unravel exactly what every layer has to say. But with expectations properly aligned, “The Man Who Killed Hitler” has an unusual charm to its mild manner that offers audiences plenty to mull over even after it ends.
Review Score: 70