“Let Him Go” is like if Liz Cheney made a movie.
Kevin Costner and Diane Lane act the hell out of this preposterous thriller that somehow manages to be nail bitingly exciting. They play good conservative Americans, the kind that own guns but use them responsibly to do things like shoot sick horses, and are really good at baking pies. Their son dies tragically and their daughter-in-law marries a bad conservative American who whisks her off to live with his nightmare of a family, their grandson in tow. They have reason to believe the grandson and daughter-in-law are in danger, so they take off to retrieve them, partnering up with an indigenous man no less, just to remind us that, once again, there is such a thing as a good conservative American. This brings them in contact with this film’s version of Trump America, a total goon show if ever there was one. I’m not sure our divided culture really needs a movie right now that reinforces the stereotype that people who live out in the middle of nowhere are hillbilly psychopaths, but if that’s your bag, this movie is for you. The hillbilly clan is led by matriarch Lesley Manville, who looks like she eats cigarette sandwiches for breakfast and orders her sons to go around chopping people’s hands off. The final showdown is something out of a southern Gothic horror story, like if William Faulkner and Stephen King had a literary love child.
I’d rather not think too much about this movie, because there is absolutely no way it could possibly stand up to too much scrutiny. I usually hate movies like this, because they make me want to see really bad things happen to vile people, and they usually — like this movie — make the vile people REALLY vile so that you don’t have to feel bad when you’re happy to see them murdered. But I still usually just feel bad, and I don’t like that feeling. This movie, however, just worked for me. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s because of how good Costner and Lane are, and how careful the movie is to make these two feel like decent ordinary people trying to do the right thing rather than closet superheroes in flannel shirts and cowboy boots. Nothing they do is remarkable, unless you count standing up against grotesque hatred and bullying as remarkable, which I guess I do since it seems to be so needed in our country right now and seems to be in short supply.
And I’m on board with any movie that lets Lesley Manville devour as much scenery as she does here. I’m surprised there was any set left.
Review by evanston_dad