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Rated 3.03 stars
by 166 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Rusty Spurs
by Richard Jack Smith

Aiming dead centre on the myth-making, writer/director Walter Hill --reliably brilliant, susceptible to folderol -- turns a relatively small episode into the longest running feud. Wild Bill doesn’t convince one bit as history, although Jeff Bridges makes the transition flawlessly. 

Bill Hickok killed men, had a rash of friendships and died holding cards totalling aces and eights. This has since passed into popular culture as “Dead Man’s Hand.”

For showing the man -- long-haired, cool under pressure and lacking accountability -- Hill makes a decisively imprecise movie. Tallying it up, Wild Bill doesn’t fill in enough blanks to be escapism nor does it cover enough bullet points to rate as purely biopic. Therefore, this account seems to be spurred by fascination, long in the gestation and yet short on execution.

Consider the fascinating Bruce Dern, setting us alight through a stirring cameo. I also enjoyed Bridges’ casual grandeur. He walks through dusky saloons carrying the next burden before it’s even saddled on his shoulders. Ergo, the weight of the world can be an idea as much as a physical hindrance. Rarely does the past catch up to Hickok as he ploughs into destiny’s waiting room, while smoking a pipe.

Incidentally, the filmmakers score big in netting David Arquette. He plays Jack McCall, a pathetic soul that swishes around like a bug in the mud.

Simultaneously major and minor or perhaps just a little too preoccupied with hats, Wild Bill breathes the vaguest wisp of over-ripe fortitude. It’s a morality tale minus any trace of good or bad in its veins.

(Released by MGM Entertainment and rated "R" for violence.)

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