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THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER & THEN THE BIGFOOT (2018)

Directed by Robert D. Krzykowski
Written by Robert D. Krzykowski
Starring Sam Elliott, Aidan Turner, Ron Livingston, Caitlin FitzGerald, Sean Bridgers, Ellar Coltrane, Larry Miller, Anastasia Tsikhanava, Rizwan Manji, Kelley Curran, Alton Fitzgerald White, Silas Archer Gustav as the Dog, & Mark Steger as the Bigfoot!

The ominously titled THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER & THEN THE BIGFOOT is a true oddity of filmmaking. There is no doubt Sam Elliot is amazing as the man himself who accomplished the titular tasks. But while the title might suggest action of the highest order, the film instead is an intimate, melancholy, and heartbreaking dissection of heroism – all set upon the backdrop of the meeting of the most notorious Nazi, the most elusive cryptid, and one simple man.

Do I really need to give a synopsis here? It’s in the title. Taken at face value, everything in the title happens. When we first see Sam Elliot’s Calvin Barr, he’s a broken and weary man. Sure he’s known far and wide for putting a bullet into Hitler’s noggin, but he’s sick of telling that tale and doesn’t think he can live up to the mythic stature adhered to him for having done the deed. We see Barr as a man who one might believe should be riding high and living the good life. Instead he is lonely, drunk, and simply sad. Having peaked at such a young age, what the hell else can he do to top killing Hitler. Well, sure enough, believing all of the hype, the government needs Barr to suit up once again and take on the Bigfoot, which is apparently spreading a virus across Canada. Having trapped the elusive beast in a quarantined mountain range in the Great White North, Barr is dropped in to confront the beast. Can Barr live up to the challenge twice in once lifetime? Is this all going on in his head? Is this all just an allegory on the weight and responsibility our military bring back with them after the war is over? Is the film worth watching?

Well, I hope so. I’m not sure. I think so. And yes.

Sure it’s entertaining to see Barr huffing it up a mountain in pursuit of Bigfoot. The conflict itself has a lot of buildup, but as with Barr’s previous achievement, it proves to be less of a feat than most are hyping it up to be. I believe that’s the message that this film is really trying to tell us here. It doesn’t matter if Barr is sent to behead the Kraken or be the first man to shoot a golfball off of Jupiter. The mission doesn’t matter here. What matters is the performance Barr gives and how amazing he is showing the weight of it all. This isn’t a story about heroes overcoming uncalculatable odds, its about the what’s next once the unbeatable foe is defeated. And that’s a damn sad story. Sure those of us who work hard to achieve a goal want to think that there is an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and accomplishment right after, but this somewhat pessimistic and altogether realistic portrayal bursts that bubble and simply tells us that once the hill is conquered, it doesn’t really feel all that different. It’s not a popular way of living and not the healthiest, but it’s a damn fine perspective to delve into and delve into it this film does (and quite successfully, I might add).

Sam Elliot is playing Sam Elliot here. He’s a badass, even without seeing the action he’s said to have accomplished. But there’s an everyman quality he possesses here that is really heartbreaking. He doesn’t let life break him down, but life does so anyway. It’s a sad spectacle to witness. Another standout here is the fantastic Larry Miller who plays Barr’s best friend. There’s something comfortable and genuine about the way these two guys interact that makes me want to sit and watch them interact with one another for hours.

Though his appearance is all too brief, I have to give props to the appearance and portrayal of the Bigfoot by Mark Steger. This isn’t your typical Bigfoot. It’s more of a primitive man—skinny, somewhat emaciated, yet still inhuman. Again, the way Bigfoot is presented here is not some larger than life beast. The film bursts that bubble, making the monster a threat with wild and unpredictable actions, but offers up the threat in a more subtle and disturbing manner than brute force.

Do not expect this film to be a balls to the wall actioner with Sam Elliot spitting bullets, punching Nazis, and taking down cryptids with one arm behind his back. This is a sad ballad of a film about shattering the mythology suggested in the title. It’s a film that’s going to make your heart open up as well as your brain. It delivers a level of awesome, just not the level promised in the overzealous title. I highly recommend THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER & THEN THE BIGFOOT, but it’s a thinking man’s action movie—a post-modern dissection of what a hero is and what it feels like to be one before and after the deed is done.