The potentially fascinating story of an American adventurer who installed himself as president of Nicaragua 132 years ago, Walker unfortunately exists for one reason and one reason only – for director Alex Cox to vent his spleen about continued American interference with the Central American country. The comic, idiosyncratic approach has merit in theory, but the result onscreen is a virtual fiasco.
With the financial backing of tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, Walker led a mercenary band of 58 men to Nicaragua in 1855 and ruled the tiny nation with an increasingly heavy hand for two years until being kicked out.
Cox makes a muddled attempt at the outset to paint Walker as an idealist who becomes fatally twisted after the premature death of his strong-willed fiancee (played in a very brief appearance by Marlee Matlin). From then on, however, Walker is ramrod stiff and impenetrable, a man given to self-seriously strutting about and delivering platitudes such as, ‘One must act with severity, or perish.’