”THE MAN WHO KILLED HITLER AND THEN THE BIGFOOT”

The title of a movie may sometimes reveal more about its plot than you need to know.  Freshman writer & director Robert D. Krzykowski’s atmospheric, historical epic “The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot” (*** OUT OF ****), starring Sam Elliot as the titular protagonist, doesn’t tell everything.  As the legendary huntsman Calvin Barr, Elliot plays the individual who infiltrated the ranks of the Third Reich and put lead through Hitler’s head. “Poldark” star Aidan Turner credibly portrays the protagonist as a younger man in the World War II scenes. Happily, Turner bears a reasonable resemblance to what Sam Elliot might have looked like 50 years ago.

After all, Sam is pushing 75.  After the Hitler shooting, Elliot takes over from Turner as the older Barr for the 1980s.  Meantime, Krzykowski cuts back and forth between past and present storylines, and he displays nimble flair.  Everything considered, though he appears in perhaps half of the movie, Elliot’s sturdy presence turns “The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot” into an intriguing, occasionally exciting, meditation on loneliness and heroism.

The scene where Barr penetrates Hitler’s security and confronts the Führer is suspenseful. Even better is the unusual weapon our hero assembles from various inconspicuous personal items to shoot him.  The gun is reminiscent of the weapon wielded by Francisco Scaramanga in the James Bond extravaganza “The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974). Despite all his medals and bravery, our hero doesn’t live in the lap of luxury.

Of course, nobody knows he killed Hitler.  The U.S. government covered up his audacious deed when the Third Reich replaced the Führer with an imposter!  Moreover, as each imposter perished, Barr explained the Nazis lined-up another to maintain the masquerade.  This kind of inventive plotting distinguishes this artsy, little, independently produced film.  The palatable authenticity that permeates “The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot” is contrary to most current films.  Fate constitutes a fickle thing for Calvin Barr as well as for the audience, but the movie never degenerates into a maudlin melodrama.

Good fortune has not favored Calvin Barr in his personal ambitions.  He bides his time contemplating the past. Barr keeps to himself unless he ventures out to his younger brother’s barbershop for a trim.  Barr’s congenial brother Ed (comedian Larry Miller of “Undercover Blues”) is only too happy to give Calvin a haircut.  Sometimes, they go fishing and drift idly around in a boat on a serene lake, but never utter a word.

Calvin experiences flashbacks from the Hitler assassination throughout, reliving those white-knuckled moments.  Meantime, he eats breakfast with Ralphie, his pet Labrador Retriever, slipping him a fragment of link sausage under the table.  Calvin lives alone, and Krzykowski often shows him pondering a small wooden box.  Neither the significance nor the contents of the box is divulged, but it is enough for us to know that it contains something valuable to him.

Calvin’s mysterious box is comparable to the enigmatic attaché case in “Pulp Fiction.”  You can guess all you want, but Krzykowski neither affirms nor denies what lies within it.  When he least expects visitors, Calvin finds himself chatting with an FBI agent nicknamed Flag Pin (Ron Livingston of “Office Space”) and a Canadian government official Maple Leaf (Rizwan Manji of “Charlie Wilson’s War”) who pitch him a preposterous proposition straight-out-of-a-science fiction saga.

In Canada, health experts have learned the fabled creature Bigfoot is carrying a deadly plague which could wipe out mankind.  Every animal that Bigfoot has come into contact with has died an ugly death.  Miraculously, Calvin is immune to the creature’s virus, so he enjoys a modicum of protection.  Flag Pin and Maple Leaf want him to enter a fiery arena about 50-miles in diameter in the Canadian wilderness and shoot the Bigfoot to death.  Initially reluctant to undertake such an outlandish mission, Calvin changes his mind at the last moment.

The creature Bigfoot is reminiscent of the apes at the dawn of time in Stanley Kubrick’s original “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but it isn’t a schlocky B-movie monster.  Calvin reports back that the creature doesn’t have big feet.  Nevertheless, this creature is clever, and it almost leads Calvin off the edge of a cliff.    Earlier, Calvin’s encounter with thieves outside the bar in his home town turns ugly and violent.  These three dastards brandish knives and pistols and demand his keys and his wallet.

The methodical way Calvin disarms them and leaves them sprawled senseless on the asphalt would prompt the heroes of “The Expendables” film franchise to high-five him with admiration.

Sam Elliot’s performance is laden with dramatic gravitas.  Not every actor can play a seasoned killer who convinces us that he is not only lethal but also remorseful.  Elliot doesn’t shrink from performing his own stunts, and the filmmakers thrust him into situations that few 75-year old men should experience.  One stunning long shot of Elliot scaling a mountain with his bare hands with his rifle strapped to his back reminds us that the journey of the hero is fraught with constant peril.

Krzykowski keeps the actor on his toes. Mind you, everything Krzykowski does here as a filmmaker clashes with the common wisdom of theatrical tentpole releases.  Krzykowski’s film suffers somewhat from the pervasive sense of melancholy our stalwart, tight-lipped hero experiences.  Bridging the 1940s with the 1980s, Zach Passero’s polished editing makes these drastically different scenes appear integrated.

As Calvin’s younger version, Aiden Turner has a brief, bittersweet romance with the heroine Caitlin FitzGerald.  However, they are never shown sleeping together. Seriously efficient at his tracking and killing, Calvin Barr lacks the control over his personal life that he has attained over his prey in his professional life.  The actor cast as Hitler– Joe Lucas–is a dead ringer for Herr Schicklgruber!  Altogether, “The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot” qualifies as a derivative, but above-average, character study with nuance about an individual who without question made sacrifices to serve his country. For more movie reviews that you might like click the link: https://theplanetweekly.com/category/entertainment/

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