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Robert Krzykowski, a comic book artist turned filmmaker, channels his affection for B-movies and mythic themes into a meditation on the nature of heroism in his feature debut. The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot is a sprawling, meandering drama that doesn’t quite deliver on its ambitious promise (and intriguing title).
Oscar nominee Sam Elliott stars as Calvin Barr, a retired World War II veteran living out his years in a small town in the Northeast, along the Canadian border. Slouched at his breakfast table, feeding table scraps to his aging golden retriever, the lanky, silver-haired Barr looks like a man who has faded into lonely obscurity — but this near-legendary old soldier still has some tricks up his bathrobe sleeve.
As a young man, Barr was a highly skilled, lethal operative with a gift for languages and a flair for ’40s-era high-tech weaponry. Played by Irish actor Aidan Turner (the Hobbit franchise, Poldark), whose expressive eyebrows make him a perfect ringer for a young Elliott, the younger Barr coolly assassinates the Fuhrer in secret and retires to a quiet life.
Decades later, when a series of unexplained deaths rattle his New England town, Barr is tracked down by agents from the FBI (Ron Livingston) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (Rizwan Manji) and lured out of retirement with a mission to track down the mythical Bigfoot, which they believe is to blame.
Despite excellent, committed performances from Elliott and Turner, and a few droll moments with agile comics Livingston and Manji, the film fails to engage. It veers from talky, melancholy drama to gory creature flick, and from innocent love story to swaggering war epic, as writer-director Krzykowski can’t seem to nail down one cinematic style or message. Frequent flashbacks add another layer of confusion.
More important, the two killings described in the title come off as anticlimactic, and despite the presence of special effects guru Douglas Trumbull as an executive producer and Spectral Motion (X-Men: First Class) as creature designers, this Bigfoot comes off as smaller, creepier and more ghoulish than the hulking beast we’ve come to expect.
Venue: San Francisco IndieFest
Production company: Epic Pictures
Cast: Sam Elliott, Aidan Turner, Ron Livingston, Larry Miller, Rizwan Manji, Caitlin FitzGerald, Ellar Coltrane
Director-screenwriter: Robert Krzykowski
Producers: Shaked Berenson, Patrick Ewald, Jackie Krzykowski, Robert D. Krzykowski, Lucky McKee, Katie Page
Executive producers: John Sayles, Douglas Trumbull, Giles Daoust, Catherine Dumonceaux, Louise Lovegrove, Deborah Shriver, John Shriver
Director of photography: Alex Vendler
Production designer: Brett Hatcher
Editor: Aidan Stanford
Music: Joe Kraemer
Casting: Lisa Lobel, Kelly Roy
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