×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fantasia Film Review: ‘The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot’

It's not exactly bait-and-switch, but a puzzlingly bland little drama hides behind that spectacular title.

Director:
Robert D. Krzykowski
With:
Sam Elliott, Aidan Turner, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Rizwan Manji, Larry Miller, Ron Livingston, Ellar Coltrane, Nikolai Tsankov, Joe Lucas, Mark Steger.

1 hour 37 minutes

Rarely has the gap between outlandish concept and pedestrian execution been quite so wide as it is with “The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot.” Producer Robert D. Krzykowski’s long-aborning debut feature as writer-director must’ve had a passion project’s motivation behind it to reach realization. Yet it’s difficult from the final result to fathom just what the intended point was.

All its idiosyncrasy expended on that undeniably head-turning title, this low-key, literal-minded indie manages to make those marquee events pretty uninteresting. The rest is a surprisingly rote grumpy-old-coot character study that provides Sam Elliott another opportunity to amble respectably through a portrait of late-life discontent not so different from last year’s tepid “The Hero.”

Whatever expectations of a goofy and/or fantastical good time raised by that memorable moniker will go unfulfilled by a movie whose imagination seemingly ran dry after the title page was written. Commercial placements are going to be an uphill climb.

After an opening that teases the first of the two billed happenings here, we meet Elliott’s protagonist, Calvin Barr, a man of few words and no apparent job or family ties (save Larry Miller as younger brother Ed). Spending yet another evening on a small-town barstool, he’s halted on the way home by three would-be carjackers, giving him a chance to demonstrate that this old man can still kick butt when riled.

Such physical resiliency appears to have already been noted by the FBI official (Ron Livingston) and Canadian government representative (Rizwan Manji) who land on Calvin’s door shortly thereafter. Despite his age, his tracking ability as an ex-spy and apparent rare blood immunity have made him the only viable candidate for a top-secret mission: killing Bigfoot. That fabled creature not only exists, but has fallen ill with some “nightmare plague” that could potentially wipe out all earthly life if its carrier isn’t destroyed. For this purpose, the initially reluctant Barr must journey solo into a 50-square-mile zone of quarantined Canuck wilderness.

When that quest finally commences, the film kicks into higher gear, albeit all too briefly. But throughout we get flashbacks to our hero’s long-ago prior assassination commission, when he used his skills as a multilinguist to infiltrate Nazi Germany and kill Der Fuhrer.

This is all pretty exciting, outré stuff … or so you would think. But it’s typical of the film’s odd, cardboard, comic-book take on history that when young Calvin (Irish thesp Aidan Turner of the “Poldark” series and “Hobbit” films) finally succeeds in his WW2 mission, we’re told it didn’t much matter because Germany came up with replacement “Hitlers” anyway.

Similarly, other key narrative threads trail off into nothingness. Taking up a great deal of bland screen time is the generic pre-war romance Calvin has with schoolteacher Maxine (Caitlin Fitzgerald). That relationship’s loss seemingly embittered him for the rest of his life, yet Krzykowski inexplicably can’t be bothered to explain just why or how his love object died prematurely.

There are other strange lapses of scripting logic that might’ve passed as delightful quirks in a different movie, but here they seem to have been omitted through some mix of neglect and disinterest. What is Krzykowski interested in? It’s hard to tell. In part he seems to be creating a paean to an old-school heroic masculinity, at once modest, merciless, and very American. His two lead actors can embody that kind of archetype nimbly enough. But there’s no real connection between the aw-shucksy, tongue-tied young Calvin who courts Maxine, and the one who calmly sneaks across Europe to kill Hitler — or the older version who requires only a couple of weapons and some backpacking gear to slay Bigfoot. These one-dimensional protagonists don’t credibly evolve into one another, leaving a gaping 50-year psychological gap between them.

Though there are glimmers of humor here (the best visual gag being a Nazi watch with a swastika where the hands should be), this is mostly a bewilderingly earnest enterprise — a character drama sans depth, propped up by fantastical incidents depicted without much verve or absurdism. One can adjust to its being a mild movie with a wild title, but it’s not even a particularly good mild film. Your average Hallmark Movie might realize Krzykowski’s principal elder-angst themes for a suitable senior star with greater insight — though of course we wouldn’t get guest stars Adolf and Sasquatch.

The result is a puzzlingly innocuous curio with unconvincing period atmospherics, OK performances by under-utilized cast members, the occasional lively moment (most on the Bigfoot trail), and far too little eccentricity for a movie with this title. Acceptably crafted in most tech/design departments yet without much personality, “The Man Who Killed Hitler…” is the equivalent of a bowl of tapioca — a warm mush that tastes all wrong when you thought you’d ordered chili con carne, heavy on the hot sauce.

Fantasia Film Review: 'The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot'

Reviewed at Fantasia Film Festival, July 20, 2018. Running time: 97 MIN.

Production: An Epic Pictures presentation, in association with Title Media, Makeshift Pictures. (Int'l sales: Epic Pictures, Hollywood.) Producers: Robert D. Krzykowski, Patrick Ewald, Shaked Berenson, Lucky McKee. Executive producers: John Sayles, Louise Lovegrove, Douglas Trumbull, Giles Daoust, Catherine Dumonceaux, Deborah Shriver, John Shriver. Co-producers: Jackie Krzykowski, Katie Page.

Crew: Director, writer: Robert D. Krzykowski. Camera (color, widescreen, HD): Alex Vendler. Editor: Zach Passero. Music: Joe Kraemer.

With: Sam Elliott, Aidan Turner, Caitlin Fitzgerald, Rizwan Manji, Larry Miller, Ron Livingston, Ellar Coltrane, Nikolai Tsankov, Joe Lucas, Mark Steger.

More Film

  • Face to Face with German Films

    Face to Face with German Films Unveils the Six ‘Faces’ of 2019 (EXCLUSIVE)

    Teutonic promotional organization German Films has announced that its annual initiative supporting German filmmaking internationally, Face to Face With German Films, will focus on actors and actresses as the campaign enters its fourth year. Six of Germany’s leading thesps – Maria Dragus, Christian Friedel, Luise Heyer, Jonas Nay, Jördis Triebel and Fahri Yardim – will [...]

  • (L to R) VIGGO MORTENSEN and

    'Green Book' Lands Post-Oscars Theatrical Release in China

    Fresh off Monday’s news that it had picked up five Academy Award nominations, best picture favorite “Green Book” is set for more good luck. The film will hit Chinese theaters on March 1, the first weekend after the Oscars, which fall on Feb 24, Alibaba Pictures announced on its official social media account. The film [...]

  • Fan Bingbing

    Chinese Celebrities Pay $1.7 Billion in Back Taxes Following Fan Bingbing Scandal

    Chinese film and TV stars have paid some $1.7 billion (RMB11.7 billion) of additional taxes, following the mid-2018 scandal surrounding actress Fan Bingbing. The figure was announced Tuesday by China’s State Tax Administration. Chinese authorities launched a probe into the taxation affairs of the entertainment sector in October. Companies and individuals were asked to examine [...]

  • Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marco Graf

    Film News Roundup: AMC, Regal to Leave 'Roma' Out of Best Picture Showcases

    In today’s film news roundup, “Roma” will not be in the best picture showcases at AMC and Regal, “Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church” gets a release and SAG-AFTRA’s David White has a new appointment. ‘ROMA’ SPURNED AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas are leaving Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” out of their upcoming annual showings of the contenders for [...]

  • First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban

    First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban-Inspired After-Party (EXCLUSIVE)

    Celebrities at this year’s SAG Awards won’t have to go far for some tropical fun. Sunday’s annual post-show gala, hosted by People magazine for the 23rd year, is set to feature a Cuban-themed party space adjacent to the Shrine Auditorium. “We’re kind of going back to more of a thematic element. I have some close [...]

  • Paul DavidsonVariety Big Data Summit Presented

    Listen: The Orchard's Paul Davidson on Surviving Sundance Bidding Wars

    Hollywood heads to Park City, Utah this week in the hopes of finding the next big Sundance Film Festival breakout. Paul Davidson, executive vice president of film and television at The Orchard, plans to be in the thick of it. In today’s edition of Variety‘s “Strictly Business” podcast, Davidson opens up about The Orchard’s strategy [...]

  • Young Tony Soprano in 'Sopranos' Movie:

    James Gandolfini's Son Michael Gandolfini Cast as Tony Soprano in 'Sopranos' Movie

    Michael Gandolfini, son of the late James Gandolfini, will play the young Tony Soprano in “The Many Saints of Newark,” the  prequel movie to the television series “The Sopranos.” “It’s a profound honor to continue my dad’s legacy while stepping into the shoes of a young Tony Soprano,” Gandolfini said. “I’m thrilled that I am [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content