Diablo full movie review - A Polished But Enigmatic Western
Scott Eastwood's murky frontier yarn "Diablo" is reminiscent of his father's classic horse opera "High Plains Drifter," but "Diablo" is neither half as specific nor straightf0rward.
"Forger" director Lawrence Roeck and scenarist Carlos De Los Rios have contrived a polished but enigmatic western about a psychologically tormented Civil War veteran who isn't the hero that we are lead to believe that he is until the high body count showdown. Whether you like this curious western, you cannot fault "Jurassic Park" lenser Dean Cundey's breathtaking widescreen cinematography, except Roeck and Cundey resort far too often to a high-flying camera drone that captures either Eastwood or his double as one of them gallops across the landscape. One good looking scene has our hero crossing lush, verdant green terrain. As we are looking down at him from a God's eye perspective, the sun casts a perfect silhouette shadow of the horseman on the ground. This is a memorable bit of composition. An interesting production detail is the snowstorm that overwhelmed the filmmakers as they embarked on this production. Roeck and Cundey exploited this atmospheric anomaly, and the scenes of Jackon riding through the snow-clad, winter paradise look awesome. Aside from Scott Eastwood's easy-going performance, "Diablo" boasts an above-average cast including Danny Glover, Walter Goggins, Adam Beach, Joaquim de Almeida, José Zúñiga, and Camille Belle. Mind you, Goggins steals every steal he has, but sadly he doesn't log a lot of screen time.
"Diablo" occurs seven years after the American Civil War. As a preamble, Roeck cites a provocative Mark Twain quote: "But who prays for Satan? Who, in eighteen centuries, has had the common humanity to pray for the one sinner who needed it most ..." This western starts off like a rehash of the vintage John Wayne opus "The Searchers." After a half-hour has elapsed, however, strange stuff makes you question the designation of Scott Eastwood's character. Initially, we believe the protagonist, Jackson (Scott Eastwood of "Mercury Plains"), is a hero struggling to reunite with his wife Alexsandra (Camilla Belle of "10,000 B.C.") that a gang of Hispanics have abducted during the first scene. But could he be the villain? The first time we see Jackson, he stands framed in the front door of his clapboard house in Colorado with flames backlighting him as he cuts loose with his Winchester at the fleeing kidnappers. He rescues his faithful horse Ace from the barn along with a saddle before the smoke overwhelms him and he collapses. Two friends of Jackson show up and help him. Jackson asks them to give him all the bullets that they have and they oblige him. Our hero sets off on Ace to track down the Hispanics. As the plot unfolds, you begin to wonder about Jackson. Is he the kind of hero that we should be cheering for because several oddball things occur that contradict this.
Later, Jackson catches up with some of the Hispanics, and he finds one atop a plateau blasting away with his revolver. Jackson circles around behind Auturo (Joaquim de Almeida of "Desperado") and finishes him off. Afterward, he takes a siesta and awakens to find a young Native American brave has meddled with his belongings. The young brave, Ishani (Samuel Marty of "40 Below and Falling"), shoots several arrows at him that miss Jackson, but Jackson doesn't kill him. Along the way, Jackson encounters a mysterious gunslinger, Ezra (Walton Goggins of "The Hateful Eight"), who saunters into the scene when Jackson approaches a shotgun-wielding Asian, Quok Mi (Tzi Ma of "Rush Hour"), who threatens to shoot Jackson. Without warning, Ezra sneaks up behind the Asian and shoots him in the back. Ezra notifies Jackson, "Just to keep you informed, this is my road, and as such, I collect a toll from all travelers for safe passage." According to Erza, this toll consists of everything that a person owns and perhaps even their soul. Ezra sounds like Charon, the ferryman of Hades, in Greek mythology. Ezra confesses he enjoys killing men. They brawl briefly when Ezra lowers his guard, and Jackson knocks him unconscious. Later, after Jackson catches a bullet and his horse is shot dead, Ezra reappears. He lies down beside Jackson and observes, "You are all alone in a world that don't celebrate being alone." Ezra goes to sleep beside Jackson. Ishani stumbles onto Jackson and persuades his apprehensive elders to nurse Jackson back to health. The Native Americans don't trust this "evil" white man. After Jackson leaves the Indian camp, Ezra shows up and kills all the Indians except . Jackson's travels takes him to visit an African-American, Mr. Benjamin Carver (Danny Glover of "Lethal Weapon"), who fought in the Civil War with him. Carver harbors misgivings about Jackson. Jackson tells him that his wife has been kidnapped. Carver lives with his granddaughter, Rebecca (Nesta Cooper of "All Things Valentine"), and he warns her about Jackson as he fetches his rifle and ammunition. "He's killed more men than you met in your lifetime." During a conversation between Carver and Jackson, we learn Jackson was General Sherman's best killer and that he was nicknamed 'Diablo.' Moreover, we learn Jackson accidentally shot his brother to death. Inexplicably, Jackson executes Carver. However, when the scene starts, Jackson walks up and finds Ezra threatening to shoot Carver. Presumably, Jackson and Ezra are the same, like the Brad Pitt character was the flip side of Edward Norton's character in "Fight Club. Afterward, Jackson confronts the Mexicans who took his wife. Alexsandra screams when Jackson sneaks up behind her, and she flees with the Mexicans.
Scott Eastwood is a dead ringer for his dad, and he looks comfortable in western garb. He isn't bad as far as his acting goes either. Lensed on location in British Columbia, "Diablo" emerges as a good looking western with some gorgeous scenery but the narrative seems incomprehensible, particularly when Jackson and Ezra appear to be one in the same. The ending suggests evil triumphs.