Film Reviews

Killer Elite

Page 3 of 3

In The Wild Bunch, Sam Peckinpah captures the deep-rooted human need to lash out savagely, projects it out over our heads in color, in stereo, and lets it hang there and wriggle in space.

The filmmaker's alter ego, Pike Bishop, the homicidal antihero of The Wild Bunch played by William Holden, carries himself like a man who's been staring at that wriggling vision his whole life. But he keeps moving, thinking and acting, delighting us and appalling us. We're never asked to look at him with either sympathy or scorn, just to look at him, to feel what he feels and to consider the fate of the society that produced him.

That's all Sam Peckinpah ever wanted: he wanted us to look, and then to ask why we look. The difference between Quentin Tarantino and Sam Peckinpah is the difference between a writer and a dreamer, between ink and blood, between cheekiness and guts. It's the difference between pulp and flesh.

The Wild Bunch.
Directed by Sam Peckinpah. With William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Warren Oates and Ben Johnson.

Rated R.
144 minutes.

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