'Butcher's Crossing' Is A Decent Western Drama
By Sal LoCicero | October 28, 2023
Debuted at TIFF last year in September (and now showing in select theaters), Nicolas Cage’s semi-latest western feature ‘Butcher’s Crossing’ shows Cage, in the 1870s, dedicated to hunting buffalo even if that means putting his (and others) mental and physical health at risk for several months, in an adaptation of John Edward Williams’ book published in 1960.
Nicolas Cage has been making a smooth comeback in Hollywood, although he continues to accept roles for films with a similar financial budget as ‘Butcher’s Crossing’, he has returned to features purchased by major distributors. While this film isn’t (at all) a comeback, it still offers not only a strong performance by Cage as well as Fred Heckinger but a solid direction from Gabe Polsky.
With an average script, both the directing and acting truly help this stand just slightly above many other straight-to-VOD movies. Gabe Posky is able to show enough of his cinematic vision for us to see the talent - that has yet to be fully explored - inside of him.
The first 20 minutes focuses on Will Andrews (Fred Heckinger), a College dropout, who is trying to seek his own destiny where he eventually meets Miller (Cage) and asks to join him for Buffalo hunting with his two fellow men. Once the story is actually in motion is when it gets really interesting. As Miller becomes so obsessed with hunting Buffalo, the job turns increasingly difficult for his team as the seasons go by.
The switch in genre is what keeps you invested, what was originally just another western drama turns into a psychological thriller with all four men questioning each other and their well being. Seeing Cage slowly lose his sanity is as entertaining and intense. In one scene, where Cage gets to let off his famous “Nic Cage” steem, it does come off as humorous which seems to have been (most likely) intentional. There is one other sequence in the movie that is (obviously) meant to be tragic for a certain character, however the execution does not work at all and only makes for the audience to laugh hysterically.
The final scene is very well directed and gives off an appropriate melancholy feel that fits the emotions that our main character lets out.
Some may consider this to be Nic Cage’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’, given the fact that this is also a western film and it was released near the end of October, but ‘Butcher’s Crossing’ is a solid western - and psychological - drama.
What are your thoughts?