Waiting for the Kill

Do not underestimate a small penis. Even little things can screw a lot of people in major ways. Take the story of “Unforgiven,” for example. A whore laughs at “something” and as a result, she’s slashed and cut up by two men. The town sheriff (Gene Hackman) tries to settle the matter judiciously. Since the whores were only deemed property, he asks that the two men pay back the whore’s pimp with horses. The whores are outraged by the decision. They accumulate their earnings and secretly post a reward for anybody who can kill the two guys. This is to send a message that whores aren’t just properties to be abused.

This piece of news reaches William Munny (Clint Eastwood) through a young rider (Jaimz Woolvett) named The Schofield Kid. The Kid knows of Munny’s notorious past as a deadly killer. He figures they could team up together and split the bounty. Munny refuses at first, because he has come along way from his killing days. But he soon changes his mind and brings along his old friend Ned Kelly (the invaluable Morgan Freeman) for the hunt and the kill.

“Unforgiven” came out in 1992 and gave Clint Eastwood his first Best Director win at the Oscars. Even if the film also won Best Picture, I was hesitant in watching it. Through the years, I had a gut feeling I wasn’t ready. And there’s that fear that my response to a considered classic has the initials WTF. But since Eastwood is such a premiere filmmaker and I had sampled some Westerns lately, I decided to finally to give this a shot. My verdict: WTF. D’oh!

“Unforgiven” is a very decent film, with notable low key performances and tranquil cinematography. But this is rather disappointing for a Best Picture winner. I wouldn’t even put it on the same level of Eastwood’s back-to-back masterpieces “Mystic River” and “Million Dollar Baby.” I wasn’t thrilled that “Unforgiven” is such a slowpoke Western. Most of the time, I wished the plot would pick up. It takes so long to set-up the story. It takes so long for the characters to get into place. I wait so long for these cowboys to reach town and clash with the sheriff. I wait so long for these cowboys to kill the two guilty men. I was this close in saying “so long” to the movie. But then I realized something: “Unforgiven” is so much more than anticipating the big events.

There are themes eloquently building in the silent and pensive acting of Clint Eastwood. His William Munny is a quiet but complex character. He’s not a man we can relate to, and yet, we’ll just have to accept his wisdom. He believes there’s no glory in killing a man for it kills something inside you. Of course, this is supposed to be deep shit. But I have trouble connecting because I can’t relate. And I read that this movie pays homage to past Western classics. Alas, I’m not familiar with Westerns in the first place and maybe that’s what made me so unprepared for this movie. I’ll probably give this a shot again. Maybe I’ll be ready when I’ve watched more Westerns and get a feel for more mature themes. I know I’m young and I still have to learn more about life in general. I’m not going to act like I know everything and slam a movie I might like later on. That’d be acting like a little dick.

Grade: B

Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman, Richard Harris, Jaimz Woolvett, Saul Rubinek, Anna Levine, and Frances Fisher
Screenplay by
David Webb Peoples
Directed by
Clint Eastwood
Rated R for language, and violence, and for a scene of sexuality