18 September 2012 | Rodrigo_Amaro
Disappointing effort in all the things it tries to be
Truth be told, "Walker" is almost enjoyable for a long period of its running time. Too bad it doesn't live up to the expectation of viewers who wanted to see a more accurate project on the life of American mercenary William Walker and his small triumph of being President of Nicaragua during the 1800's. I know director Alex Cox ("Sid and Nancy") was drawing parallels with the Reagan administration and its politics on Central America with the invasion of Granada, supporting conflicts in El Savador, Panama and other countries but the film fails on a epic stance simply because it wasn't serious enough to be that. If it is a satire where was the object for such? If this was a mockery on America's politicians and their excessive control on everything where's the funny parts? There's plenty of ridiculous scenes and characters that one doesn't walk out of this amused or fascinated but completely unmoved.
For one moment this was quite intelligent in giving us an artistic involvement from the part of Mr. Cox and his comparison of both 1855 and let's say 1987 presenting a Nicaragua where you can read Time and Newsweek magazines, see automobiles and helicopters in the 1800's. When Walker (played by a quite decent Ed Harris) makes his final speech on why Nicaragua needs the U.S. intervention and that this will never end we're not seeing Walker no more, we're seeing Reagan years ahead and even wondering of another possible intervention in maybe 50 years from now. Cox's invention works a little but such innovative artistic license works better in "Caravaggio" and "Marie Antoinette".
So, who is Walker anyway? From this movie we get that he's a soldier of fortune (oddly enough, Harris played another one on the same decade as this, in "Under Fire" also about American intervention on a Central America nation) with plenty yet quite unclear self interests in there who takes over the nation bringing a mindless and ruthless dictatorship that goes to punish and oppress, even condemning their own comrade in arms, and bringing slavery to the country. Definitely, not a likable character, the tyrannic Walker goes to insane action from another. A more natural and realistic approach would benefit the movie since Harris really prepared for the role. It's a good performance but unworthy of such film.
The director wants to shock us in the closing credits with controversial archive footage of what the Reagan administration made in Central America but almost pointless if all the way through the movie we didn't felt the same reaction when Walker was blowing cities for his pleasure, people were being killed again and again. Those scenes are brilliantly filmed, followed by the nice music of Joe Strummer, but most of the time the actors are only making ridiculous faces instead of feeling pain from the bullets, and there's countless moments when we know the director is trying to make us laugh with some situations. But they never come. I felt sorry for Rene Auberjonois and his loud and wounded performance. Such a great character actor reduced to painful moments through this mess. Worst than all of this is that this is a terrible noisy picture, really hard to hear with so many noises in the background.
Having this film being something historical it could have been a great film. Instead is heavily problematic, flawed, erroneous in so many ways that it killed Alex Cox career in Hollywood, with his future projects almost invisible to audiences. I don't see any difficulties in people liking "Walker", it's an easy thing to watch but I do think people are missing the difference between art and wanna be art. As Woody Allen said one time: "There's only two things that can be controlled: art and masturbation." Frankly, "Walker" is neither since it doesn't offer the pleasures of both and is completely out of control. 5/10