×
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.

Popular on Variety

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

  • Lorenzo Soria77th Annual Golden Globes Nominations,

    HFPA President Responds to Golden Globes' Female Director Shut-Out: 'We Vote by Film'

    Despite gains in the number of films and TV shows helmed by women, female directors were completely shut out of the Golden Globes once again this year. The snub was immediately called out on social media, with filmmakers like “Honey Boy” director Alma Har’el tweeting, “do not look for justice in the awards system.” However, [...]

  • Bruno Dumont's 'Joan of Arc' Wins

    Bruno Dumont's 'Joan of Arc' Wins Louis Delluc Prize From French Critics

    Bruno Dumont’s “Joan of Arc (“Jeanne”), a semi-musical period drama that world premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and won a special mention in the Un Certain Regard section, has received the Louis Delluc prize from French Critics. The jury of the Louis Delluc prize is headed by Gilles Jacob, the former president of the [...]

  • Brad Pitt on Quentin Tarantino Actors

    Golden Globes Nominate 14 Movie Actors From Variety's Actors on Actors

    “Variety Studio: Actors on Actors,” Variety‘s biannual awards season offering, pairs actors who have delivered the best performances of the year for candid conversations about their craft. This year, 14 actors who participated in Variety‘s movies issue received a Golden Globe nomination on Monday morning. That list includes Brad Pitt (“Once Upon a Time in [...]

  • Playmobil the Movie

    Box Office Bomb: 'Playmobil' Flops in Historic Fashion

    “Playmobil: The Movie” will make box office history, but certainly not in the way it intended. STX’s animated adventure generated less than $1 million despite launching in 2,337 North American theaters and now stands as one of the worst opening weekends of all time. “Playmobil” scraped together just $668,000 over the weekend, marking the third-lowest [...]

  • Frank Sheeran (Robert De Niro) is

    'The Irishman,' 'Once Upon a Time,' 'The Mandalorian' Among Art Directors Guild Nominations

    The Art Directors Guild (ADG, IATSE Local 800) has announced its nominations for the 24th Annual Excellence in Production Design Awards in theatrical motion pictures, television, commercials, music videos and animation features. Among the films recognized for outstanding production design are James Mangold’s “Ford V Ferrari,” Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” and Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon [...]

  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife Trailer

    First 'Ghostbusters: Afterlife' Trailer Brings Ghostbusting to the Country

    Ghostbusting has left the mean streets of New York City and set up shop in the countryside. Set 30 plus years after the original film, Ghostbusters: Afterlife” stars Carrie Coon, ​​​​​Finn Wolfhard, Mckenna Grace and Paul Rudd. But despite the location change, the first Busters Dan Aykroyd and original film director ​​​​Ivan Reitman, are heavily [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content