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BLACKTHORN (director: Mateo Gil; screenwriter: Miguel Barros; cinematographer: J. A. Ruiz Anchía; editor: David Gallart; music: Lucio Godoy; cast: Sam Shepard (James Blackthorn), Eduardo Noriega (Eduardo Apocada), Stephen Rea (Mackinley), Magaly Solier (Yana), Nicolak Coster-Waldau (Young James), Padraic Delaney (Young Sundance), Dominique McElligott (Etta); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Andrés Santana/Ibon Cormenzana; Magnolia; 2011)

“Has good scenic photography and a grand performance by Shepard.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A revisionist western directed by the Spaniard Mateo Gil (“Nobody Knows Anybody”) and written by Miguel Barros, that wants us to believe that American outlaw Butch Cassidy wasn’t killed in a Bolivian army ambush in 1908 but instead lived another twenty years as a peaceful South American rancher and took the name of James Blackthorn (Sam Shepard). The romantic elegy to the outlaw is unconvincing, plodding and too full of sentimentality, but the pic has good scenic photography and a grand performance by Shepard.

The pic begins in 1927, and the grizzled elderly rancher Blackthorn says his goodbyes to his younger Indian girlfriend housekeeper Yana (Magaly Solier), withdraws his $6,000 life savings from the bank and rides across the plains by horse to return home to America after living in exile in Bolivia for over twenty years. On his journey home, hunted robber Spanish mining engineer Eduardo Apocada (Eduardo Noriega)bushwhacks Blackthorn andcauseshis horse, holding his life savings in his saddle bags, to run away. To get Blackthorn to spare his life, the whiny Eduardo tells of robbing the richest mine owner in S.A. of $50,000 and hiding it at the mine he worked at. Blackthorn agrees to take the Spaniard across the desert to the mine for a fifty-fifty split, even though a large army posse is after the wanted man.

While on the run, there are flashbacks to the younger days of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (featuring the young Cassidy and young Sundance played by Nicolak Coster-Waldau and Padraic Delaney, respectively), and their mutual girlfriend Etta (Dominique McElligott). Pinkerton agent Mackinley (Stephen Rea) also shows up in the flashbacks and again in the present as a former Pinkerton man, who is now a deadbeat drunk.

Though disappointing because of all the dull spots and how lackluster it turned out, the modest western is nevertheless watchable because of the 67-year-old Shepard’s rugged performance and as a reminder to western fans of when that genre dominated the big screen.

REVIEWED ON 11/19/2011 GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”