Review: “In A Valley of Violence” is ‘John Wick’ In the Old West

 
Direction
6.0


 
Acting
5.0


 
Plot
5.0


 
Execution
5.0


 
Total Score
5.3


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Posted November 4, 2016 by

 
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One thing every movie villain should know by now is never kill the dog of a man you don’t quite understand. Unfortunately for the villains in “In A Valley of Violence” they don’t have electricity so learning from the mistakes made by those in “John Wick” was never an option. A man named Paul (Ethan Hawke) rides into a small town and it doesn’t take him long to get noticed by the men that run it; immediately starting trouble with a man named Gilly (James Ransone) and his pack of common criminals. Embarrassing loud-mouth Gilly by knocking him out with one punch in front of his friends and girlfriend, Paul has now turned the entire town against him – which isn’t hard seeing as how only nine people live there. When Gilly’s father and the man who is really in charge, Marshal (John Travolta), tells Paul it’d be better if he leaves and promises he won’t be followed if he just goes about his business elsewhere, Paul packs up his trusty dog and his belongings and leaves town promptly. When Gilly and his cronies catch up with him to get revenge, Paul’s dog pays the price for his actions and all hell is about to break loose.

Because there isn’t many people in the town and Paul really only has a connection with his dog that bites the dust early, “In A Valley of Violence” jumps right into the action and does away with the pesky character development. The premise is simple: bad guys did a bad thing and now they’re going to be killed for it. Not much more to it than that. Where “John Wick” succeeded and “In A Valley of Violence” failed is that the action isn’t all that exciting. Much like the plot, every kill is quick and to the point and the viewing audience is really just waiting to see how everyone dies before the credits roll. To give the story more meat on the bone, writer/director Ti West adds in the duo of Mary-Anne (Taissa Farmiga) and Ellen (Karen Gillan) — two quick talking sisters who tend to get more in the way than add any real depth to the story. Such a shame as both actresses are extremely talented yet serve more as props than actual characters. The same goes for Marshal, Gilly, and their band of clutz killers: they’re just there until they aren’t. When you have a character like Paul — a war veteran who is able to kill quickly and brutally — you need equally strong villains for him to go up against. Instead the movie feels like a bully picking on the weaker kids who made the mistake of trying to guard their property.

“In A Valley of Violence” is really just a mindless action film that doesn’t do anything to offend its audience, but doesn’t do anything to entertain them either. The one thing I did like about this movie is it showed that Ti West has a lot of promise as a writer/director; he just didn’t deliver with this picture. My recommendation is to skip this movie and just re-watch “John Wick” instead; if it would make it more interesting just pretend Keanu Reeves is wearing a cowboy hat.

“In A Valley of Violence” is now on V.O.D.

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DavidRyanM

 


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