Any Bullet Will Do (2018)
Mercy is something you beg for.
Alright, western time as promised. I’ll be honest, for about five minutes I got real worried that I had misinterpreted the description of the movie and in fact got a Civil War movie and was going to be making myself a liar. Lo, the movie corrected itself and I did indeed end up with a western - a very recent one at that. Full disclosure, the western genre isn’t normally my jam - nothing against them on a personal level, but probably the genre under super heroes on the time to burnout ladder. Still, it’s been a while, and it’s about time to place one into circulation - let see if this winter tale of man hunting will leave us in the cold or surviving the wagon train. Tonight, we check out Any Bullet Will Do.
I’m going to throw a bump in this adventure right off the bat - let’s talk music. Despite my apparent lack of interest in the genre, the one thing it’s hard for even me to argue about is the generally awesome music that comes with them - in particular the spaghetti western branch. Not limiting itself to just simple banjos and spittoons, bringing out all manner of horns and glorious emphasizing whistles, they know no bounds in their capacity to drag you in for a enjoyable ear-based experience. Here, it’s not quite that. It has some moments where the hard tunes stand out a bit and make you groove ever so slightly, but it’s all very modern in presentation - particularly with the strings. It’s a bit of a shame, as the overall cast here is going to be limited, so it’s not leaving a whole lot to really grab you with the audio front. It saddens me that it is so, as that’s the one part of the movie that I really was hoping to walk away with stuck in my head, but I can say that at least the audio balance is fine, even if the music doesn’t strike a chord with me.
The actors do a decent job here too. At times, it feels a bit pushy with the performances, perhaps a bit cornball. One scene in particular has our main two members of screen time screaming at each other in a tiny building, so on screen the two are screaming open-mouth at each other probably about four inches from each others faces. It makes it a bit silly, like a sudden make out is going to happen despite the chemistry draw not being there, or that one is suddenly going to pull a Kirby and try to eat the other’s head. It’s a small moment, but it kind of emphasizes the extreme point of the acting being a bit out there. Most the time it’s very fitting of the type of movie it’s going for - complete with language that will offend plenty of people in the modern era, but being rather period accurate in it’s usage. The sad part is, the people who would complain about that component probably wouldn’t even praise the other side of it, but hey, them’s the breaks. Role wise, our main female lead can feel a bit out of place at times, largely in account of her sometimes bubbly attitude with all the sarcasm and wit and lady power she throws around. It somewhat grows on you, and by the end it gets reigned in to a more fitting level of the rest of the movie, and the character as a whole isn’t nearly as annoying in retrospect. The main lead very much looks and sounds the part, and our main villain couldn’t be much more villain without being carried around on a throne of puppies by an army of slaves. I mean, the guy’s reappearance into the plot coincides with his entire crew wearing white bags over their heads, and combined with his established war-time sides it draws a pretty sharp KKK vibe.
If you end up finding yourself not liking the characters though, you are gonna find yourself in for a rather bad time. Those three take up the brunt of the movie, with side characters popping in for service one way or the other - giving out a bounty, being a bounty, serving as the classic moral grounds or attempt to be heart-fodder later on. Most of them could be memorable in some ways, but largely all fall into the fact that they are just background parts to help the story along or fill out the run time in a way that doesn’t do an impactful amount - it might give one of the leads a chance to show maybe they have human emotions, or show what they might be capable off, but largely doesn’t impact the actual main story of the film as it runs towards it’s finale. The plot in itself isn’t overly complicated either - one brother has a reason to really hate the other, and the rest is all just revenge when the plot finally kicks in.
Costumes are fun - plenty of things. We get furs, hats, civil war outfits, bags on heads, and hats that straight up have a racoon face on them. It’s more varied than normal every-day attire, even if it’s still largely the same outfits the entire movie. The characters all look largely distinguishable from each other given their outfits, with perhaps the exception of the generic bad team lackeys. Large fans of the genre might not find much to really stand out, given their more frequent visual familiarity with the period-type costumes. Of course, we also get that little bit of civil war mixed in there to punch it up slightly, but outside of the opening scene it’s essentially just one character who never got rid of his army jacket - which also isn’t something entirely unseen in movies. The more amusing part for me is that each of the main guys have their own weapon - one a big bowie, the other a tomahawk. It would have been relatively simple to just give them both sabers or knives to play into the western or the civil war side of things, but despite the natives only being mentioned in passing in various scenes, we’ve decided that the main bad guy needs to have a tomahawk to set him apart from everybody else.
Of course, there’s plenty of firearms found about as well, although outside of a few hero shots of some revolvers the actual number of gunfights after the opening is relatively short. Violence effects are a bit short-handed in numbers, but what’s there looks pretty fine. They even manage to mix in a few explosions for good measure, although the sound associated with them leaves a bit to be desired. On that note however, one might find that the pacing of the movie is a bit oddly done - you start with some action and set up mixed together, then go quite some stint before a decent sized action scene that isn’t a one-sided gun-down. By decent stint, I mean most the movie at that point. It’s a lot of walking through cold scenes, playing up to that “nature is pretty” and applying some attempts to flesh out the characters or make them something more than cardboard. You could argue about how effective that is, depends on how much you can enjoy the characters personally I suppose. Some of the slow moments do help set the character apart from perhaps what you would expect them to be though, so it’s not all that bad - especially when the movie manages to not really feel like it’s taking a long time. In honest, I had a moment where I got a bit confused and though it only took an hour to watch, despite the movie being just shy of two. Any movie that can both feel slow but pass time very fast is an impressive feat in my book, so they must have done something right when it comes to entertainment value.
The scenery is nice, and one could argue that the movies major weakness is really something our female tracker friend points out - a point of reiterating itself in very similar ways. We see the driving force of the main character in slightly different ways despite the point getting across the first time it’s given to us as a rumor. We see traveling across the environment to get to the finale through multiple locations, only to have it oddly end in what looks to be the same village that kicked off the main plot despite the baddies wandering off afterwards to hide out. You could point to other moments as being maybe plot-hole like, but I don’t really feel it’s a hole as much as just an elongating of the movie instead of an abrupt end. Of course, there’s also the almost cop-out feeling ending that wasn’t really all that needed but somehow decided to get put in there anyways.
Overall not a bad movie, but certainly left me wishing for a little bit more than what was gotten. Mostly in the music department, but certainly a few different fields could perhaps have more fun than they were despite not being bad. It manages to be quick without actually being all that quick, It’s major lacking point ends up being that the music isn’t quite as fun as I had anticipated, but the cast was good and did a decent job. It might not be as high octane as the remake of Magnificent Seven, but it does a decent job with a some minimal plot complication.