Directed by Walter Hill. 105 mins.
Worth my time? No. (Watched on DVD)
Walter Hill’s second collaboration with Keith Carradine is a little bit of Fear and Desire (Kubrick’s seldom-seen debut) and a whole lotta Deliverance. Sadly, it features neither the low-budget charm of the former nor the suspenseful genius of the latter. At five films deep into the Hillmography, Southern Comfort is definitely my least favorite of the bunch.
The great roster of character actors that accompanies Carradine on this National Guard training exercise from Hell are largely put to waste. I was excited to see that the film starred veterans such Peter Coyote, Powers Boothe, Fred Ward, And T.K. Carter, but none of their characters are likeable or even marginally interesting. There are no believable humans onscreen, just numbskulls making stupid decisions (like, slasher film “Don’t-go-into-the-unlit-basement” stupid) and trying to out-badass one another with smack talk. As far as I can tell, Hill and his co-writers made the script by filling out a book of Military Mad Libs.
Most of the film is a long slog through a swamp, literally and figuratively. This is an ugly movie – lots of greys upon greys and indistinguishable locations. Maybe this is an accurate depiction of the Louisiana bayou, but come on, Walter. You aren’t exactly a naturalistic filmmaker – liven this shit up, for Pete’s sake.
The film does pick up with a tense sequence in the final act, partly because the action leaves the swamps and partly because most of the really annoying characters have died. Additionally, Ry Cooder returns with a score just as good as in The Long Riders. However, neither of these highlights are adequate rewards for sloshing through all this mediocrity.
Next up in the Hillmography: 48 Hrs.
(Seen and originally written on 2013-01- 27)