Alex Cox’s Walker is one of the most peculiar films to have been released by a major studio during the 1980’s. It’s an uneasy blend of Mel Brooks and Warner Herzog. Those are two names rarely used in the same sentence. And for good reason. They are polar opposites stylistically and the merging of both men’s seminal works into one film plays as poorly as it sounds. The nonadherence to conventional Historical dramas is refreshing if not eminently entertaining. However, a little of this rebel auteur filmmaking goes a long way and after an hour the film becomes an exercise in enduring strained credulity and outlandish onscreen behavior.
The life of American lawyer and journalist William Walker (Ed Harris), who named himself president of Nicaragua during the 1850s. During his presidency, he becomes increasingly manic and delusional, with Walker antagonizing his financial backer by revoking the powerful Vanderbilt’s a license to the overland trade route. Eventually, without the support of Vanderbilt or the US government, Walker’s further forays into Central America lead to his capture and bloody execution.
Walker is a sputtering, rambunctious, sometimes fascinating film about a puritanical American drunk on moral righteousness and power while occupying several cities in Nicaragua. If you can stomach the film’s first act the following hour is an ironic ultra-violent entertainment that never engages the viewer but also doesn’t bore. I like the films of Alex Cox and Walker is his least favored but most important and mature work. This is a film that is definitely not for casual audiences looking for a conventional western bio-pic.
Director: Alex Cox
Stars: Ed Harris, Richard Masur, René Auberjonois