Something, something… Markus likes westerns… something, something… let’s get into it!
Ladies and gents… “In a Valley of Violence”.
The story of this movie follows a mysterious wanderer (Ethan Hawke) who experiences a horrific act of violence. And then he goes on a hunt to find and take out the people responsible. It’s a very simple western revenge plot, and it really never needed to be anything more. Sometimes you don’t need an overly complicated plot or a plot touching on the themes of morality and/or the psychology of the characters. This plot is exactly what it needed to be… a highly enjoyable western revenge tale. Original? Nope. Good? Hell yes.
The characters in this movie, while not very deep, are all interesting and entertaining. Ethan Hawke is great as the main guy. His character is also probably the deepest, because thye actually give him a backstory and clear motivations. And Hawke gave us a great performance. John Travolta plays the Marshal of the town that most of the movie is set and he was actually really good. Sure, he never gets to do anything that truly stretches his acting muscles, but he still did well in the role. James Ransone plays Travolta’s son/the man that makes Ethan Hawke go on the hunt for the assholes responsible, and he was really good. His character is set up to be a big cunt, and Ransone played that very well. Taissa Farmiga plays a young woman Hawke more or less befriends in the movie, and she was really good. Karen Gillan is in the movie, playing the wife of James Ransone’s character, and she was really good in the role. Then we have Larry Fessenden as Roy, a member of Ransone’s crew, and how do I put it… his character was really over-the-top and Fessenden was just a million flavors of fun in the role. And we also have Burn Gorman as a preacher that pops up at a few times in the movie, and he was really good in the role. All actors did a really solid job in the movie!
The original score for the movie was composed by Jeff Grace and it was great. It is a mix of both old and new. Let me explain. The composition shares similarities to scores from Ennio Morricone’s old western scores. But it also shares a few similarities with some more modern scores, à la “The Assassination of Jesse James” or “Sicario”. And it all fit the movie very well, often making scenes more intense while being overall well composed.
This movie was directed by Ti West and I think he did a great job. What I like most about it feels like an old-school 1960s western. The shots just feel like something from Sergio Leone. Now, it’s not quite as great as Leone’s stuff, I’m just trying to find a suitable comparison. But yeah, it’s like an old western but with better camera/sound equipment and more blood. So yes, this is a pretty violent movie. When people get shot, there’s blood. Not as much as in maybe “Django Unchained”, but there’s definitely more blood than in a fair amount of other westerns. And for anyone possibly wondering, I am not using any of these comparisons to make this movie seem smaller/worse than it is… just trying to find good ways to explain certain elements of it.
This movie has been decently well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has a 77% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 64/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 6,0/10.
“In a Valley of Violence” is a really solid old-school western. It has a good plot, good characters, great performances, great music, and great directing. Time for my final score. *Bang!*. My final score for “In a Valley of Violence” is a 9,78/10. Which means that it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.
My review of “In a Valley of Violence” is now completed.
Gotta say, 2016 was a pretty good year for westerns. “Magnificent Seven”, “Hell or High Water”, and “In a Valley of Violence”…