The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot

***

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot
"There are the makings of a great film here but too much time is spent telling the story and not enough showing it." | Photo: Fantasia Film Festival

"I just killed a man," says Calvin Barr (Sam Elliott). Just a man - one of several, as it turns out, to have been Hitler. It was the most difficult act of his life - morally as well as tactically - and it made no difference to the promulgation of Nazi ideas. But if that's the case, what might it mean to kill Bigfoot? He really doesn't want to be responsible for an extinction - he wouldn't take on the mission if there were any other way - but even without that last lonely individual, wouldn't belief in Bigfoot live on?

One might think that a man who did such deeds would be immortalised in legend himself, but that's not Calvin. It's not just that he works for the secret service; it's that he wants a quiet life. All he ever really wanted, for himself, was to be with Maxine (Caitlin FitzGerald), the love of his life, whom he had to leave behind to fret whilst he undertook one secret mission after another. In an early scene we see him quietly endure abuse from a group of youths, giving them a beating only when they try to take his car. For all its far-fetched premise (which is easy to treat as possible truth due to the military habit of covering up sensitive information), this is really a film about the unknown heroes among us and the many former soldiers who will always be obliged to keep silent about pivotal events in their lives.

Calvin is living in retirement and gradually drinking himself to death in a small New England town when first we meet him. Extensive flashbacks gradually reveal the adventures he had as a young man (played by Aidan Turner), but it's the unexpected visit to his home by a CIA agent and a mountie upon which the film pivots. They bring news that the Bigfoot is the source of a dangerous disease which threatens wildlife and perhaps humanity as well. As one of few agents who has the appropriate skills and happens to be naturally immune, Calvin is called upon to save the day - to do what he's good at, and what he is least inclined to do.

There are the makings of a great film here but too much time is spent telling the story and not enough showing it. Elliott is on fine form as a character whose spirit has been broken by his experiences, but he has little supporting material to enable him to do something with that. Great chemistry with Larry Miller as Calvin's younger brother hints at what might have been. Elsewhere, interactions lack dynamism, and though the two key events promised by the title are pulled off in style, overall the film is lacking in energy. It feels like a missed opportunity.

Clearly a film crafted with love, The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot may have benefited from a more ruthless approach in the edit. Nevertheless, there's a lot here for admirers of Elliott's work to enjoy, and its different tone meant this still stood out in Fantasia 2018's selection.

Reviewed on: 22 Jul 2018
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The Man Who Killed Hitler And Then The Bigfoot packshot
A legendary American war veteran is recruited to hunt a mythical creature.

Director: Robert D Krzykowski

Writer: Robert D Krzykowski

Starring: Aidan Turner, Sam Elliott, Ron Livingston, Caitlin FitzGerald

Year: 2018

Runtime: 98 minutes

Country: US


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