'Diablo': Film Review

If you're looking for a Western featuring Walton Goggins, see "The Hateful Eight."
1/8/2016

Scott Eastwood stars in this violent, revenge-fueled Western reminsicent of his father's early films.

Scott Eastwood channels his father's High Plains Drifter in Lawrence Roeck's Western about a Civil War veteran desperately searching for his wife who has been kidnapped by bandits. Unfortunately, the genre doesn't serve the talented rising star (The Longest Ride) as well as it did his old man, with Diablo, featuring a plot twist that isn't nearly as shocking as it's intended to be, mainly registering as a minor curiosity. Arriving on the heels of the far superior The Hateful Eight, the pic is destined for a quick fade from theaters, although the presence of some familiar names should spur VOD sampling.

Differing from Clint's iconic character only in that he has a name, Jackson (Eastwood) is beset by a gang of Mexican bandits who torch his house and kidnap his wife (Camilla Belle). Of course, the audience has to take his word for that, since we don't actually see her until late in the film.

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Wandering the mountainous landscape, gorgeously photographed by veteran cinematographer Dean Cundey (Apollo 13, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Jurassic Park), the psychically tortured protagonist has a series of run-ins with various figures, including a sympathetic Indian (Adam Beach), a Chinese immigrant (Tzi Ma), an old war buddy (Danny Glover) and, most memorably, a vicious killer named Ezra (Walton Goggins, stealing every scene as usual) who demands a "toll" from Jackson for encroaching on his territory.

Asked what sort of payment he has in mind, the demonic Ezra answers ominously, "Maybe even your soul."

Moments like that, including Jackson's encounter with the ghost of his dead younger brother, hint at the gothically baroque aspirations of the film, which somehow manages to be utterly tedious despite its brief running time and frequent violent episodes.

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Since this effort seems to be so shamelessly riffing on the elder Eastwood's cinematic terrain, it practically begs for a comparison, however unfair. Although looking uncannily like his father, the chiseled Scott here fails to project the effortless charisma, and tightly coiled menace, that Clint would have brought to the role. Without that sort of compelling figure at its center, Diablo feels far more like a pastiche than the real deal. 

Production: Space Rock Studios

Distributor: Momentum Pictures

Cast: Scott Eastwood, Walton Goggins, Camilla Belle, Adam Beach, Joaquim de Almeida, Danny Glover

Director: Lawrence Roeck

Screenwriter: Carlos de los Rios

Producers: Shana D. Wilson, Lawrence Roeck, Carlos de los Rios

Executive producers: Shana D. Wilson, Lorraine Bodnarek, Jacob Bercovitz

Director of photography: Dean Cundey

Production designer: Trevor Smith

Editor: Kyle Sanborn

Composer: Timothy Wilson

Costume designer: Christine Thomson

Casting: Roger Mussenden, Rhonda Risekci

Rated R, 83 minutes

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