Walker

Walker

Streaming Video - 1987
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The astonishing story of a real-life American soldier of fortune who declared himself president of Nicaragua in 1855 and ruled the country for two turbulent years. William Walker (Ed Harris) puts together a band of mercenaries and leads a violent and bloody invasion of the Latin American nation. He then installs himself as the self-proclaimed leader in the belief that he knows what's best for the country's citizens. Director Alex Cox continually jars the audience with anachronistic humor by populating the mid-Nineteenth Century with copies of Newsweek, cigarette machines, personal computers and helicopters! An all-star supporting cast featuring Peter Boyle and Oscar winner Marlee Matlin underscores the important message of this bold satire.

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Shot on location in Nicaragua with the cooperation of the Sandinista government, WALKER is director Alex Cox's attempt to make sense of American imperialism. The film tells the story of William Walker, an acolyte of the doctrine of American Manifest Destiny, who invaded Nicaragua in the 1850s at the behest of steamship mogul Cornelius Vanderbilt, and who governed the country for a chaotic couple of years before he was driven from power. You would think that this film would have been a smashing success -- Ed Harris is appropriately messianic in the lead role; Rudy Wurlitzer pens the screenplay; Joe Strummer provides the score -- but it was savaged by the critics, registered next to nothing at the box office and destroyed Cox's Hollywood career. It is not a successful picture. It is meant to be viewed as a lampoon, with antebellum filibusterers drinking Coca-Cola and reading Newsweek. It should have been presented as a straight-up historical drama. It's got chutzpah though, and it somehow manages to capture the brief cultural opening at the end of Reagantime when it looked like the neoconservative/neoliberal consensus was kaput. It didn't turn out that way.

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smithdaven
Jan 10, 2015

I was disappointed in this movie. It wasn't what I expected which was a historical drama. It was very violent and silly in places.

NightGoat72 Feb 23, 2014

We open on a savage, chaotic battle in the 1800s. Soldiers are dying horribly all around. A man pleads with and attempts to patriotically rouse his leader. This leader – Ed Harris playing William Walker – then nonchalantly responds: “Don’t be so silly, man.”

From that moment, you know you’re in for something special.

Subversive, anarchic, incredibly bold and daring, bloody, hilarious, and littered with sequences of transcendent, unexpected beauty, Walker is a masterpiece. Alex Cox’s anachronistic playfulness and utter disregard for cinematic conventions allow him to cut right to the heart of the film’s themes, satirizing Western imperialism and the corruption of power in remarkably concise and direct ways. Every scene in this movie is a mini-masterwork in and of itself.

The climactic town-burning set to Joe Strummer’s haunting, ethereal score is celluloid magic, pure cinema in its most passionate and emotional form.

kevfarley Jun 17, 2013

In spite of artsy jokey pretentions,.. this history lesson lampoon about U.S. intervention politics probably deserves a contemporary revisit. It was BURRIED DEEP WHEN FIRST RELEASED ! There are good production values and cinematography, ... and Ed Harris is wonderfully effective as the hero of Manifest Destiny !

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