Last night, which was a Friday, I did a double feature with my family. The first was “Nell” (which I wrote a review on), then next was “Thunderheart”. The thing they had in common was the same director. I had no knowledge of this. It was pure coincidence. Actually, both films had hardly anything in common except the directing-style of Michael Apted. The movie begins with a young FBI man with a Sioux background sent to an Indian Reservation to help with a murder investigation, where he must discover the heritage that is within him (based on real life occurrences in the 70’s). The film stars Val Kilmer as the FBI agent Ray Levoi, and Graham Greene as a characteristic native officer. The film also has Sam Shepard, Fred Ward, Fred Dalton Thomas, Sheila Tousey, and others. (Running Time: 119 minutes)(Rated R)
“Thunderheart” was a pretty good movie, I’d say. Personally, I have a certain appreciation and respect for Indian people…and the story is focused on a South Dakota reservation. It depicted a fair amount of the poverty that these people have suffered from, and their unlawful treatment by the government. The film did not journey too much into the Sioux culture that surrounded the plot, but managed to squeeze in some ceremonies and even a powwow! The story’s center was the mystery murders surrounding the reservation. The movie had a feel of a 70’s b-movie with a touch of action, and an actually pretty good twist to it near the end. The story in general followed a classic outline of a hero coming into a place where his help is needed, where a past might be hidden, and where he will ultimately break the so-called “law” to uphold justice.
It was obvious Val Kilmer was young and cute at this time. He did a fine job at playing a man ignorant of his heritage and of his father, intent of focusing on the murder to solve, and once in a while jumping in to help the Indian people. Graham Greene often times gets a great character to play. He gets to once again in this picture. Though Canadian, Greene gets to play Indian roles most of the time–which suits him just right, of course! He did an excellent job at playing a curious, interested Sioux Indian in “Dances With Wolves” (1990. A great film I need to post a review on, sometime). In Thunderheart, he is a traditional yet sometimes sarcastic officer who has no care about jurisdiction and crossing the line with the government and the people they send. He showed that Greene had fun playing his role, and would probably do it again if there were a sequel, just starring his character!–although, I doubt they’ll ever make that movie…..
Technically speaking, the quality of this picture was…fair. There was nothing fancy about this one; nothing outstanding. The director obviously went about this project thoroughly and wished to actually go out to South Dakota and film on a real Indian reservation. I respect that. I really do! One thing I noticed about this film was it was well-rounded. And what I mean by that is, it was well put together; its scenes, the characters, the discovers, its climax. It was completed satisfyingly to the audience. That’s one thing in cinema that is not common, I gotta tell ya!
And I’ll say this quite often: that this is my review. You may have a different opinion. You may think this movie was the more awesome-tastic film you’ve ever seen in your life! Or, you may think it stunk big time. Of course, one of the reasons I write these reviews is to get you interested in watching movies to appreciate them for so-and-so. See what I mean?
Well, moving onward…..
…..I think at this time, I’d give Thunderheart a 3 stars out of 7 of ’em.
….Overall, this film was pretty good. If you are in the mood for a little sock ’em up, sometimes goofy, sometimes surprising action/mystery; you ought to check this one out someday. If you are also a fan of Val Kilmer, you have yet another good reason of picking this film off the shelf.