The title of the movie promises a lot. To my ears, it promised exciting derring-do with some self-conscious comedy thrown in. Maybe, this movie could have been a Tarantino-esque tale of over-the-top action, with a little wink to the audience because of how silly it all is. But this is not that movie. The title is a big sham, only designed to draw people to see it, but it holds little relation to what the movie actually is.
This is a slow character study of an old man full of regrets, which the movie fails at as well. Sam Elliot is an old veteran with a simple, lonely existence. We see him having a drink on his own in a bar. Then we see him getting robbed. Then, well, we see him getting a shave, and having a microwave meal at home. And so on. Nothing much happens. And in between these scenes, we are treated with flashbacks of how he indeed killed Hitler in his younger years. The whole story is told in flashbacks; his story, of how he ended up as an anonymous, lonely man.
But somehow, these flashbacks don’t help to really get a feeling for the character Sam Elliot inhabits. He just sits around and stares at stuff. The flashbacks and the current story don’t really inform each other, and we’re left with a big feeling of “so what?” And then he is asked by the FBI to kill bigfoot. It is all played straight, very seriously. Sam Elliot is a troubled old man who feels like his murder of Hitler was meaningless in the end, but it feels like a film milking some inner conflict out of character for an unknown reason. What point does it serve to create a character who killed Hitler and then as an old man feels miserable about it?
I suppose Sam Elliot plays the man who kills myths. First, he killed the myth that killing Hitler makes him some kind of comic book hero, and then he kills another myth, that of bigfoot. The story is very much split in two, also in style. The bigfoot scenes are full of wide camera shots of Elliot climbing mountains and tracking animals, while the Hitler part was full of dark, intimate shots. It is a very fragmented film in stories, in style, and without real meaning.
This movie is proof that you cannot create an interesting character and an involving story by simply adding a surface-level sadness to that character, and add some unusual circumstances to his life story and then wipe your hands as if you’re finished. And admittedly, the film reserves a lot of time for the drama parts and only a few minutes for the killing of Hitler and Bigfoot. The long shots and the music clearly signal that the film is trying to say something and be touching, but those drama parts don’t add up well.