The Man who Killed Hitler and then Bigfoot is one hell of a title. It tells you the plot of the film, it tells you the scope of the film, it tells you the time period of the film, it tells you the characters in the film but what it doesn’t tell you is how amazing this film really is.
This insane and inspired title also seems to tell you the tone of the film but here is where you would be mistaken as The Man who Killed Hitler and then Bigfoot written and directed by first time helmer Robert D. Krzykowski is not a joke flick or a puerile parody in fact it is one of the most moving movies I saw last year at the fantastic FrightFest screening.
The Man who Killed Hitler and then Bigfoot is Calvin Barr played by both Sam Elliott (A Star is Born, The Big Lebowski) and Aidan Turner (Poldark, The Hobbit Trilogy) in the two time periods the film traverses. Barr is a legendary war hero responsible for hunting down and assassinating the villainous and vilified leader of the Nazi regime a task he took on in secret for the government and the details of which no one ever heard about.
Now in the twilight of his years he lives a simple and peaceful life in a small town in New England yet the struggles and trials of his youth still haunt him especially in regards to that fated mission and his relationship with his sweetheart Maxine played by Caitlin FitzGerald from Masters of Sex and It’s Complicated.
Reminiscing on his start in life and contemplating the impending end he is visited by government agents who are well aware of his impressive skills and perilous past secret assignment and now need him to come out of retirement and head off to the Canadian wilderness to take on a mythical foe as dangerous and monstrous as the last he fought and destroy it before it brings about the end of all mankind.
The plot may sound as ridiculous as you thought it would but the reason why this crazy story works so well is the complete sincerity everyone involved imbues it with. The performances are pitch perfect with Turner and FitzGerald lighting up the screen as a tragic couple kept apart by fate and duty.
Best of all is Sam Elliott in perhaps the role of his career personifying the reluctant yet honour bound hero from a strew of stories in different genre’s weaved into the iconic figure of Calvin Barr.
As believable wandering around his home town beset by regret as he is tracking down Bigfoot and taking the beast on one on one Elliott transfixes the audience convincing us of this character and his unbelievable life story while making us care more about him every moment he is on screen.
In fact one speech in the middle of the movie is so powerfully delivered I started to wonder if Elliott could get an Oscar but then quickly realised the Academy and other mainstream awards would ignore this film on its title alone despite the beautiful and poignant performance it features.
Making an almost mythological figure seem fallible and full of deep feeling is a hard task that few actors and actresses have succeeded in and the glut of superficial two dimensional super heroes splashed across our screens proves this yet Elliott somehow manages the mammoth undertaking with ease.
Evoking Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven and the excellent Uzumasa Limelight, Tim Burton’s Big Fish, Leon and Le Samouraï, The Man who Killed Hitler and then Bigfoot is a film about what makes a hero and what cost the deeds they do have on their lives and their soul. There is also Spielberg feel to the film with the setting and set ups reminiscent of the adventure cinema of the 80’s yet done with a more adult edge.
Not just blending genres but blowing them to smithereens The Man who Killed Hitler and then Bigfoot is a monster movie, a historical epic, a heart warming romance and a deeply moving drama all combined into one surprisingly powerful piece of cinema with a sensational central performance from Sam Elliott.
It just goes to show you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover or film by its title or you might miss something magical.