I think director’s love taking the actor/actress that hasn’t worked or done anything halfway decent in a long long time and using that one comeback movie to show audiences how excellent that person had been once upon a time. Tarantino did it for Travolta for Pulp Fiction. Darren Aranofsky did it for Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. And just recently Alejandro did it for Keaton in Birdman. Not Brett Haley is doing it for Sam Elliot in THE HERO. Sam Elliot is basically one of the three names that you associate with Western other than Eastwood and Wayne. And what’s funny about this movie is that he is basically playing an actor, now just a memory that was a bonafide Western star back in his day. But Sam Elliott is incredible in this…but the movie is only really okay, serving up way too many cliches for the film to be considered fantastic.
Which is a shame because there are parts in this film that are really great. Nick Offerman as Elliot’s buddy from long ago drug dealer is good. Krysten Ritter as Elliot’s estranged daughter is good. Laura Pepron as Elliot’s love interest is good. The acting in this is 150% solid. But let us count the cliches: 1. Elliot’s character is looking for work and roles to get him out of his acting funk. 2. He wasn’t there for his family when he was younger and is still making mistakes with them now. 3. A deadly diagnosis. 4. A start at redemption. 5. A possible way to get back major into the business. And at 90 minutes, some of these cliches keep the film from having a balance of pace.
There are a couple of unexpected things that happen including the ending, but I just don’t feel like it was enough to save the film from being a pretty damn good one time watch…and then completely forgetting about it a year from now. I did buy Prepon’s character, so much younger than him, being attracted to him and caring about him, I just wish that their interactions went a little deeper than the cliched conversations about age and dying.
Not much to say about this film as it is really pretty short and saying anything else would tell you what happens during the entire movie, and I am not one to do that. If you are a huge fan of Sam Elliot and the stuff that he does I would totally recommend trying to see this film at least once because Elliot does go out of his comfort zone to deliver something extraordinary. Other than that, if are are bored and see this at a Redbox or maybe on Netflix, you wouldn’t be wasting your time, but afterwards you’d probably never watch it again.