Når mænd hader
How do you rate a movie with equal amounts of wows and groans?
“One-Eyed Jacks” falls squarely into that category and I suppose that calls for a mixed review.
Also I should mention that I have been to a noise conference all day and is completely burned out.
“One-Eyed Jacks” is a western by Marlon Brando, literally. He is both director and lead actor and apparently had a lot to do with screenplay and production as well. Brando’s character Rio and Dad Longworth (Karl Malden) are bandits in Mexico where they rob banks, conquer women and have frequent shoot-outs with the law. When the law finally catches up with them Rio is backstabbed by Dad who rides away with a lot of gold leaving Rio to rot in a penal camp.
Years later Rio escapes and wants revenge. He hooks up with some other bandits who claim to know where Dad is. Together they descend on Monterey to rob the bank and wreck havoc. Dad Longworth has in the meantime become a respectable man with a wife and a step daughter. In fact he is now the sheriff of the town. Guess who is not happy to see Rio?
“One-Eyed Jacks” has a lot working for it. The production value is very high with crisp colors, grand vistas and great sets. With actors like Marlon Brando and Karl Malden this is a movie that means business. A remarkable thing about this movie is that it is surprisingly rough. In that sense it has a lot more in common with later Sergio Leone westerns than for example Mann’s westerns of the fifties. I am not a fan of senseless violence in movies, but the grit and the brutality adds realism to the movie and it makes it look modern.
On the flip side this is an incredibly predictable movie and a very long one at that at some 140 minutes. It is not good when you can easily predict the next ten minutes and when your prediction of the ending made halfway through turns out to be quite precise with no surprises it is quite disappointing. The clichés stack up to the point where I started laughing, such as when Louisa (Pina Pellicer) announces she is pregnant (oh dear).
What in my opinion is even worse is that it is obvious that we are supposed to root for Rio. This is Marlon Brando, of course he is our hero. Problem is Rio is a dimwitted and brutal asshole without a single redeeming feature. Just because he is surrounded by even worse assholes does not make him a saint or even likeable. He is supposed to be hot with the ladies, I mean, this is Brando, but it is difficult to say what they see in him and his affair with Louisa is both predictable and completely unlikely. I spent the movie waiting for him to get his ass kicked, but fearing that I will end up watching him ride off into the sunset.
I found the character of Dad Longworth far more interesting. This is a criminal turned respectable who sees his past catching up with him. That is a character with a lot of potential and it was very interesting to watch him spin out of control as the film progressed. I cannot help feeling that this would have been a better movie had he been the center of the story rather than the bland Rio. Still, it was the scenes with Dad Longworth that made me sit up in my seat.
“One-Eyed Jacks” is a step on the way towards the awesome westerns by Leone and Peckinpah and not a step without quality. Personally I do not feel the need to dwell on this step and would much rather proceed directly to some good spaghetti westerns.