Legend of Hawes (2022)

Rating: D+

Dir: Rene Perez
Star: Mike Markoff, Emily Whitcomb, Richard Tyson, Karin Brauns

They should have called this Bone Grit, and been done with it. Or perhaps True Tomahawk. Because what you have here is basically a mix between those two Westerns, though falling well short of either. The True Grit elements are mostly a result of Harriet (Whitcomb), a young woman who seeks to hire the services of infamous bounty-hunter Hawes (Markoff). Only, she discovers he’s a lush who can barely hold his gun much of the time, having fallen into a bottle after the loss of his family. Which is kinda convenient for her, because Harriett and her sister-in-law Ingrer (Brauns)  are in the same situation, and getting revenge for them is exactly why she wants to hire him.

Bone Tomahawk comes in, due to the nature of those who killed their relations. As an introductory caption explains, they are “A dying race of sub-human marauders [who] were reported to have raided frontier homes. They stole clothes, weapons, trinkets and ripped the faces off of their victims, to wear as trophies in battle.” Not very nice, though it’s unclear whether cannibalism is on the menu. Their capture of women strongly suggests something unpleasant in their future, though they do appear to have a high blood-pressure problem when fired upon, shall we say. I was reminded on a couple of occasions, of the quote from Hot Fuzz: “Is it true that there is a place in a man’s head that, if you shoot it, it will blow up?”

All of which sounds rather more fun than this can actually provide. For there is not enough of Harriett and Hawes taking on these degenerates, and rather too much of the pair sitting around and chatting. Not just them, either. Hawes also has a lengthy conversation with a widow about her dead husband, which has no connection to anything else. There’s also an extended discussion between him and an angel. This is, at least, my kind of angel since she a) is a bit of a babe, and b) shows up bearing two bottles of whiskey. Even Emmanuelle Beart didn’t do the latter. I am not here for these philosophical discussions on the nature of faith and family, which seem oddly in contrast to the gore and occasional nudity.

Based on images such as the one top, I was hoping for Harriett to be more of a heroine – I should probably have paid more attention to the title. For she’s clearly the sidekick: a competent one, who saves Hawes’s life, but still playing second banana. The characters and performances aren’t bad: Markoff has something of a young, long-haired Michael Madsen to him. It just feels as though Perez only had enough time (or probably more likely, money) to make half of a “proper” movie, and opted to fill up the balance of the running-time with uninteresting chit-chat. That proper movie is quite fun, and effective enough as a low-rent version of Tomahawk. The rest, definitely not so much.