A legendary American war veteran is recruited to hunt a mythical creature.
An old man sitting on a stool as he stares at his own reflection in the mirror behind the bar. It is late. The jukebox bleeds a single guitar as Billy Squier sings about the demons we carry inside.
The beginning of “The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot” tells you exactly what you are about to watch. Either you pick that up from the start and groove with it or you need to nope right out and check the latest shock video your buddy downloaded from the dark web. This is no monster fest no matter how the title might sound.
Anyone still left? Okay. Let’s get started. Calvin Barr has lived long enough that he begins to question why he continues. Sure, he has his dog and his younger brother. Yet he counts the days away as he takes that day’s pills, eats that day’s TV dinner, watches that day’s programs. In the end, it is all the same; nothing ever changes.
Especially not the past.
His singular defining and damning moment came early in his life, during World War II. His mission? To kill Hitler.
Months of tracking, studying troop movements, and pouring over intelligence reports helped him locate the real Hitler, not the body doubles the world at large heard of. Then, Calvin had to find a way to get close to one of the most hated men in history.
It has often been said war changes those involved. Calvin’s life changed with his mission, but what of the cost to him and all of his potentialities?
When the Bigfoot is found to be real, it also appears the creature carries a disease that could end all life on Earth. Calvin’s history catches up to him as he is asked to track down and kill the beast to once again save the world.
Mixing historical events with the fantastical, “The Man Who….” is not a horror film. As stated above, the opening scene sets the tone for the entire film. You are watching the story of a man who, at the end of his days, begins to question the very nature of his own life. Did he make the right choices? Was giving up on a traditional life the right choice? Would he be happier if he had just said, “No.”?
Calvin, as an old man, is played by Sam Elliott. Watching him is like putting on a favorite shirt – you know what to expect and it is comforting in its own way. He carries the look of pain, loss, and regret without much effort. His voice is familiar. In spite of his stoic nature, Elliott delivers a speech full of emotion that is heartbreaking when you realize how well he has internalized the character’s soul-deep hurting. Aging actors do not usually get starring roles these days, but it is incredible watching Sam Elliott make the most of every second he is on screen.
Aidan Turner plays Calvin as he was during WWII and shortly thereafter. He captures Elliott’s casual movements and slow, measured speech. Turner’s role also gives depth to Elliott’s portion of the film by showing you the life he gave up to accomplish the mission he was asked to do.
A good number of folks saw “Bigfoot” in the title and expected a completely different movie than what was delivered. Go to IMDb and you can find a number of angry, bewildered folks. For a half-second, their sense of betrayal may seem valid, but let’s be honest – the title isn’t “Sam Elliott Whups the Bigfoot’s Ass” and the film isn’t directed by Michael Bay. To be fair, the trailer tends to play it as a more action-filled film. When have you ever trusted a trailer? It’s like believing the used car salesman who says, “Trust me.”
The film is far from perfect. There are numerous continuity issues with wounds and bandages vanishing and reappearing. Some scenes run a bit long. A running gag about something being stuck in Calvin’s shoe sort of beats the viewer over the head with an obvious metaphor. The last fifteen minutes adds a twist that should have everyone saying, “That doesn’t make sense!” While these issues are annoying and most should have been fixed during editing, they do not wreck the film’s overall message.
“The Man Who….” Is an interesting meditation on life and what we feel our purpose is in living. Horror film, though? Not in the slightest. Keep that in mind before watching it.