The Wild Bunch - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Wild Bunch Reviews

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½ March 11, 2019
This was really good. I'm not the hugest fan of westerns but I do watch them occasionally. First off it's important to note that this film was very controversial and still gets ranked in Top 10 lists of movies that are hard to sit through (which I don't think it deserves anymore, even though I respect them for really pushing the boundaries back in '69). I'm assuming what makes it hard to watch for others is the kill count and the actions of the gang members. But these things are no longer shocking anymore, hence the movie has lost a bit of its edge. But it's still a really good western with really good acting and a fine story/plot. It's exciting and it's part thriller too. Their portrayals of Mexicans wasn't very nice (corrupt army men and women were prostitutes) but may be that's how it really was back then (film takes place in 1913). Overall if you're a fan of either western or classics, then this is must watch cinema. If you're not a fan of either, then the last appealing thing is the kill count so if you're a fan of that, this should do the trick.
½ March 8, 2019
It's poetic that The Wild Bunch is about the greatest band of outlaws living in the final days of the old west as it's also one of the best and last in a disappearing genre.
February 21, 2019
John Wayne may have thought that this flick ruined the western genre, but this still remains a genre classic, and a bit of a different one too. Director Sam Peckinpah, who would deliver the thrilling Straw Dogs two years later (1971), brings us a beautifuly shot and superbly acted piece of reflection on the dying Wild West and the change in civilization. As well as some of the worst and most corrupt sides of mankind. Sometimes the film can get long, but it's made up for with impressively stylish slow-motion sequences, and for the time, the flick is quite bloody. Overall, this is a great western and one to see. Recommended!!
½ December 22, 2018
The mother of modern day violent films, well made and full of character
December 2, 2018
This a film that took advantage of the "New Hollyhood" and produced one of the most influential, complex, and masterful action flicks ever made.
December 1, 2018
You only need to watch the ridiculously contrived and formulaic opening shootout scene to get a sense of how dated this film is. I couldn't put up with more than half an hour of it, far too tedious.
½ September 5, 2018
Action galore with a decent story to back up the action.
August 19, 2018
Sam Peckinpah's brilliant revisionist western is as genuine cinematic masterpiece. William Holden leads a gang of aging outlaws in the waining days of the old west before it became civilized. After a failed bank robbery that ended up an ambush by railroad-hired bounty hunters, the bunch are chased down into Mexico where they strike a deal with a corrupt general to steal guns for him to fight Villa. The story may not sound all that great, but Peckinpah and co-writer Walon Green fill the film with rich characterizations, stunning visuals, and a surprising amount of melancholy for a film that's otherwise dominated by a tidal wave of male machismo (which borders on misogyny). It's intimidating to write about a film that's already been dissected by an endless number of film scholars, so responding more on a personal level to the film, the themes around the bunch being men-out-of-time is the one that most grabbed me. Holden as Pike Bishop (a great character name!) is smarter, tougher, and in general more worthy than the soft citified civilians around him. Ernest Borgnine as Dutch Engstrom, I believe represents the conscience of the bunch. He's the one who at different times refocuses the group when they begin squabbling, and gets the group to do the right thing. Most of the arguments seem to happen between Pike and the Gorch brothers, played legendary actors Warren Oates and Ben Johnson. Jaime Sánchez rounds out the group as Angel, a Mexican who's heavily conflicted about stealing guns for a general oppressing his own people. There's also Edmond O'Brien as Old Man Sykes, who now just watches the horses and still gets a share because he used to run with the gang. He's the character who the rest of the aging bunch will likely become, except that there's no new gangs for these old timers to to watch their horses. North of the border, the world is now filled with motor cars, railroad barons, and Temperance Unions wanting to "civilize" the west. When the debauched General Mapache (SPOILER ALERT!) finds out that Angel took a case of the stolen guns to give to Villa's freedom fighters, the bunch reluctantly hands Angel over to the general. It's this crisis of conscience for the group when they wordlessly reflect, staring at one another, hungover in a brothel, and Pike says, "Let's go" the gang knows exactly what they need to do. The moment recalls an early scene in the film when Pike lectures the group, "We're gonna stick together, just like it used to be! When you side with a man, you stay with him! And if you can't do that, you're like some animal, you're finished! We're finished! All of us!" Borgnine, as the conscience of the group is not in the brothel but sitting outside whittling, immediately joins the others as they walk to their horses to retrieve their guns and proceed on their long walk to confront the general to get Angel back. That walk of the four, Holden, Oats, Johnson, and Borgnine, is an iconic piece of film history that has been endlessly imitated, from obvious allusions such as the Gunfight at the OK Coral scene in "Tombstone" to the less obvious scenes like Jan-Michael Vincent and his crew going out to catch one last wave together in John Milius' surfing classic "The Big Wednesday" or even in the Kathryn Bigelow's cult vampire film "Near Dark." This scene culminates in an earlier foreshadowed scene during the opening credits when a group of children are shown giggling and gleefully watching scorpions fighting off a swarm of much smaller but innumerable number of ants. The obvious connection is the these stronger, better men are being crushed and run off by the overwhelming number of weaker, dishonest, "civilized" folk changing the face of the frontier. These themes of men who've lived past their time is one that has always fascinated me, no matter the time period. Peckinpah explored slimier themes in his excellent film "Ride the High Country," but he take these notions to a next level of filmmaking with his masterful direction, which was hugely influential on modern day action cinema. Without Sam Peckinpah, there never would have been a John Woo or a Quentin Tarantino. With the exception of Akira Kurosawa, violence in cinema was never as artful or presented as a of beauty. The action sequences in the film were often described as bullet ballets, which is a perfect description of the opening and closing gunfights in the film. The interesting balance of the film's depiction of violence is that while it's at once brutally violent (the film was giving an NC-17 rating for it's 1993 re-release), Peckinpah's shoots the scene in such as way, particularly his use of slow motion and cross cutting between action, which was something virtually unseen in cinema outside of Kurosawa, and Peckinpah arguably brings it to the next level with "The Wild Bunch." I haven't even mentioned Robert Ryan's character, who used to run with the bunch, but who's been forced to lead the group of railroad bounty hunters to kill his old friends. He's a scorpion laid low, now forced to side with the unworthy ants. Ryan's character lashes out his worthless rabble (primarily embodies in wonderfully scuzzy performances by L.Q. Jones and Strother Martin) saying, "They know what this is all about - and what do I have? Nothin' but you egg-suckin', chicken stealing gutter trash with not even sixty rounds between you. We're after men - and I wish to God I was with them. The next time you make a mistake, I'm going to ride off and let you die." His character is rather heartbreaking, especially at the end of the film when he finds his former compatriots all dead and decides to ride off with O'Brien, the only surviving member of the bunch, who tells Ryan he's going to fight with the Mexican rebels, saying "Well, me and the boys got some work to do. You want to come with us? It ain't like it used to be, but it'll do." Peckinpah sees these men as Titans amongst mere mortals. They represent the stronger, loyal, better part of mankind that's being eaten away at by a greedy, petty, and unworthy onslaught of "civilized" folk. Whether you agree with those sentiments is one thing, but when it comes to storytelling, it's one that I've always found highly compelling. I also haven't even mentioned the gorgeous photography by Lucien Ballard and the hauntingly melancholy score by Jerry Fielding, in what is likely best composition of his career. There's also memorable supporting performances by Bo Hopkins, Dub Taylor, and Alfonso Arau. Overall, "The Wild Bunch" is a film that both on a straight entertainment level (it's one of my desert island films) and on an intellectual level, which is why the "The Wild Bunch" stands as one of the great masterpieces of cinema.
½ June 18, 2018
The impact of the "The Wild Bunch" on Quentin Tarantino is undeniable. Following the bad guys around attempting to operate as a team, the violence, the inevitable demise of the main characters are all traits that seem modernized in "Reservoir Dogs." Labeled an unnecessary violent film in its day, "The Wild Bunch" isn't a terribly strong story that you think about days and months later, but what is inspiring about the film is its cinematic beauty. The orchestration of the major battle scenes are perfectly edited, appropriately slowed in places, choreographed to maximize the realism and, yes, very bloody for its time. It was a daring film and an undeniable classic.
June 2, 2018
An aging band of outlaws plan one last heist to rob a train to weaponry for a Mexican general, but are hunted by mercenaries led by a former member at the behest of railroad company. It's a simple plot, but with the cast at hand and the legendary king of violence, Sam Peckinpah, at the helm, it becomes an extraordinary work not just for pioneering film techniques or setting a new precedent for onscreen violence, but also in its portrayal of its characters, its dying era, older generations being left behind in the march of progress, and also its commentary on the true nature of violence. It's not pretty, it's characters are evil people, and it sought to portray the Old West in a most non-glamorous way. It's a film that is gritty, violent, and always compelling. Whether it be brilliant set pieces or even just small moments of character interaction, it feels very alive and takes you on an incredible experience that has not aged a day since its release in 1969. It has definitely cemented itself as not only one of the greatest westerns ever made, but one of the landmark films of the 20th century. Yes, it is just as legendary and amazing as you've heard. If you love films, this is one that is a definite must-see.
April 28, 2018
slam bang action and flawless acting make for one riveting western. perfect cast; even better direction. one of the best
April 4, 2018
The Wild Bunch may have been groundbreaking in its time, but this movie didn't work for me. These anti-heroes are completely lacking in likeability and personality, so it's hard to really care about their plight. The pacing of the movie is too slow, the action sequences are sloppy and the violence is gratuitous. I can see why others may appreciate this film, but I'm not a fan.
March 18, 2018
Sorry to say that despite I know that this movie is a major one in the history of cinema, I find it rather dull. Sorry...
February 17, 2018
A peckinpah punch that I consider its own genre. Certainly not uplifting, but plenty of slow motion shoots for dramatic effect. 1001 movies to see before you die.
½ January 22, 2018
A Western that's a wee bit long in the running time, but it's still decent. Probably would have rated this higher if a half hour was shaved off. The climatic shootout was something that probably inspired Quentin Tarantino, so that was pretty awesome. Not sure if there was laughing gas on the set, because there was a lot of awkward lengthy laughs for no real reason at all. Strange.
January 20, 2018
Véritable légende du western, La Horde Sauvage a pris des rides en 49 ans, mais cela ne le rend pas désagréable pour autant. Mélange entre modernité et tradition, ce western de Sam Peckinpah est un film visuellement splendide, avec des personnages très bien écrits, loin du manichéisme auquel on aurait pu craindre et interprétés par d'excellents acteurs, Ernest Borgnine en tête. Avec trois setpieces plus ou moins efficaces (l'attaque du train est un peu lente) placées au début, au milieu et à la fin du film, la structure du film est simple, mais elle marche. Replacé dans son époque, le déluge de violence est intéressant, mais fait partie de ce qui a assez mal vieilli. Il n'en demeure pas moins que La Horde Sauvage est un film remarquable, qui tient encore la route en 2018.
December 28, 2017
Great production, but a weak story and characters fail to involve. One would imagine "the wild bunch" would be a clear cut group of characters, each outstanding in their own way. Instead, we only get Holden and Borgnine as the stars of the bunch, and not very interesting ones at that, due to the thin script. The other characters only play supporting roles grounded in laughing, shouting, and being nasty. "Angel" plays a more prominent role, actually showing the most depth of all the characters in the film, yet he never feels like a part of the group, more like a reluctant tag-along. They should have kept Bo Hopkins' character alive, he was more interesting in the brief screen time he had than most of the characters in the whole movie. El Generalisimo was another shallow character, but damn did he look and act the part.

They could have delved deeper into the relationship between Pike and Deke, but we just get a quick flashback and that's it. Same goes for Angel's love interest who leaves everything for El General, only to be killed (you almost can't tell she dies in the scene) immediately afterward. Wasted opportunities.

I really wanted to like this movie, but I can't bring myself to give it a higher rating, dozens of slow-motion graphic deaths notwithstanding. I loved the intro credits though. "If they move...kill em".
½ November 14, 2017
Classic and brilliant. The violence is now less than what you would see on any prime time TV show. My only criticism is that it suffers from Peckinpahs usual teenage humor and cheesy TV size moments and production in most interior scenes. But all the rest makes up for it. William Holden and Robert Ryan are particularly great. I wonder how, with such classic Hollywood actors involved, the marketing machine was not able to sell this more. And some of the same critics who lavished praise on the far more violent Bonnie and Clyde (truly glamorizing the nut jobs and making violence fun) were so against this film. Peckinpah must have really been a difficult ass. But a great film maker.
July 24, 2017
Couldnt connect to this film and overall crude attitude. It was long, misogynistic, corny, excessively violent, boring, and confusing. The difference btw the so called "outlaw good guys" aka the wild bunch and the rest of the vile characters portrayed was slim. The movie had many characters all of who you barely got to know and had many names and nicknames to memorize ugh. The most overrated and dumb Western, just because the cinematography and details are beautiful its still a piece of trash wrapped with a bowtie.
½ May 4, 2017
Gritty, but dull. I definitely lost interest after awhile. I think it's extremely overrated. I can't say I'm really a fan of the genre, but I've seen much better Westerns. (First and only viewing - 10/22/2014)
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