R |   |  Action, Thriller, Western  Review - Matt Mungle

In select theaters May 22nd. 

Westerns are a hard sell for the big screen. They have a core audience that could be one of the smallest lining up at the box office. Maybe Michael Fassbender can make an exception of SLOW WEST.

Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is a young man crossing the wild west in the 1800's in search of his true love, Rose (Caren Pistorius). Never has there been such a tenderfoot so Jay has no choice but to illicit the help of a tough brute by the name of Silas Selleck (Fassbender). Silas may have his own reason for helping young Jay though. 

The cast is solid and the script decent enough. The story stays simple which is a good thing for the genre. Life had a slower, though more dangerous, pace back then and the dialogue and plot have to match the time period. It doesn't mean that this one is void of action and suspense. Quite the opposite. It actually has a few edge of your seat tense moments. But they are subtly simmering. Jay and Silas run into a few unsavories and their trek west is not an easy one. 

Fassbender has already proven that he can tackle any role efficiently. It is no surprise that creates a character that is multi-layered and grounded to the time period. He acts as if he were born and raised in that environment. Each movement feels like second nature.  I knew little about Smit-McPhee but was impressed with how he made Jay a believable, likable character. Jay doesn't care much for Silas but has little choice but to stick with him. Kodi is able to capture and evoke that disdain with exhaustion and desperation. 

There are plenty of twists and turns in this one. Up until the end you are never sure who will be left standing; or who you can trust. SLOW WEST is rated R for violence and brief language. There are plenty of guns a blazing and brutality. That garners the R rating but other than that there is little in offensive content. I give it 3.75 out of 5 saddle sores. It isn't perfect and only die hard fans can engage with the lone prairie. But kudos for taking on a genre that many avoid.

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