Travis Leamons // Film Critic
THE MAN WHO KILLE HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT
When Bigfoot is no match for Sam Elliott’s mustache
Not all heroes wear capes, or suits of iron, or wield a powerful hammer. Sometimes they’re just men whose youthful exuberance fades into the ether of time. Unless you are Sam Elliott, then it doesn’t matter. A man whose trademark mustache could strike more fear into the hearts of men than The Shadow, Elliott is a Hollywood icon and his aura is befitting of a starring vehicle, titled THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT.
Sounding like the title of a Gold Medal book published in the 1950s, Robert D. Krzykowski’s filmmaking debut has the perfect pitch: A legendary American war veteran is recruited to hunt a mythical creature. But Krzykowski bypasses conventionalism, shying far enough away from its B-movie premise with a melancholic story of heroism and sacrifice. Don’t worry; you’re not being snookered. Hitler builds on the myth of its hero, while the Bigfoot explores man’s fear of what they don’t understand.
Playing with timelines and hopping back and forth between World War II and many decades later, Elliott plays the wizened version of Calvin Barr, a war veteran now living a lonely life with trusty dog Ralph in the Northeast. Exiting his neighborhood bar late one evening, walking to his car, he is followed by three no-gooders that look to take his vehicle. Big mistake. The manner in which Calvin dispenses with the carjackers is our first clue that this old man has seen and done things most wouldn’t understand.
Cue the flashback sequences. Young Calvin (Aidan Turner) is an American soldier and skilled linguist who has been tasked to infiltrate Nazi Germany and get close to the Führer and assassinate him at arm’s length. Before leaving the mainland for Germany Calvin falls in love with local schoolmarm Maxine (Caitlin Fitzgerald). Because of his duty to country, and an inability to reintegrate himself back into civilian life, their relationship falters. A life of disappointment and perpetual loneliness is vexing. For Calvin, extremely. Trips to the bar help to soften his depression. Periodic visits to his brother, Ed (Larry Miller), a barber, allows Calvin to unbottle his troubled feelings. Dog Ralph stands tall by his side, confirming the adage about dogs, men, and best friends.
It’s not like Calvin can go around telling the world he killed Adolf and live off free alcohol shots for the rest of his life. Who would believe such a cockamamie tale, anyway? Probably the FBI agent (Ron Livingston) and a Canadian Royal Mounted Police official (Rizwan Manji) that show up to his doorstep and ask him to track down the carrier of a deadly virus. Yep, the Bigfoot. If the creature makes it out of the Canadian wilderness and into the United States its plague could spread and wipe out every creature on Earth, including the human race!
Turns out that Calvin is one of the few immune to the virus, and his tracking skills from his years of service make him a perfect candidate to find and kill the Bigfoot. There’s no age limit when it comes to kick-assery, which Calvin has in spades. But this one last mission takes an unexpected turn that is disturbing and sad.
The biggest confrontation in THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER THEN THE BIGFOOT is not getting up close enough to kill the Führer or a beast straight out of a folk tale, it’s introspection. Casting Sam Elliott is a brilliant move; his face aptly communicates to the audience Calvin’s inner ache. Part of that is on account of Elliott’s years and years of experience in front of a camera. People have come to know him and his mustache well before the success of 2018’s A STAR IS BORN. Robert D. Krzykowski taps into that familiarity by exploiting Elliott’s worldweary and gravel-voiced charisma, and allowing the pulpy-sounding narrative to also be wistful character piece.
Movie Grade: B
THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER THEN THE BIGFOOT may not have had much of a theatrical bow in the US, but RLJ Entertainment (the distributor behind MANDY, BONE TOMAHAWK, and THE STANDOFF AT SPARROW CREEK) didn’t skimp on the extras.
- If you listen to filmmaker Robert D. Krzykowski’s screen-specific commentary you get a lot of details about the production (like the ingredients used to make vomit!).
- Not into commentaries, then perhaps a 40-minute featurette that includes the filmmaker, star Sam Elliott, Ron Livingston, and members of the production, covering the film’s 12-year odyssey to get made, using old-school special effects, and the director’s short film ELSIE HOOPER (also included as an extra).
- A featurette is devoted to composer Joe Kraemer, whose approach to scoring this film is a complete 180 from his collaborations with Christopher McQuarrie (THE WAY OF THE GUN, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION). Picture John Williams/Amblin Entertainment releases from the 1980s for an idea of Kraemer’s scoring two different time periods.
- Deleted scenes and a conceptual art gallery round out a nice assortment of special features.
Extras Grade: B
THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT is now available on Blu-ray and Digital HD.