The movie title says it all. The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot literally tells the story about a man who killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot. Ok, there’s a little more to it which actually makes the premise even more crazier than what the title implies and ups the stakes quite a bit. The man – Calvin Barr (Sam Elliott) – after killing Hitler in his younger years during the war, is hired by the FBI when he’s a very old man to kill the legendary Bigfoot. It seems the mythical creature is spreading an infection that’s killing everything in its path and, if not killed quickly, could wipe out the world.
That’s right – an end-of-days scenario and only Barr is physically up to the task as he’s the only person alive with a rare blood type that makes him immune to catching the infection. With such an over-the-top title and premise you’d expect a very over-the-top and/or crazy journey. Unfortunately, that’s never the case and we’re left with a disappointing mess of a movie.
With first-time feature film director Robert D. Krzykowski at the helm, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Big Foot starts with Calvin Barr in a bar, alone, with some rock music setting the mood. As he stares at his reflection in the mirror behind the bar we’re shown one of the many flashbacks to WWII where a young Calvin Barr (Aiden Turner) is set up as a soldier who infiltrated the Nazis in order to carry out his mission of assassinating Hitler. For much of the film this is what the story consists of – Old Calvin Barr doing something pretty normal and then having a flashback of young Calvin Barr prepping and getting into a Nazi base to complete his assassination mission. There are also flashbacks to Young Calvin Barr dating Maxine (Caitlin FitzGerald) before he goes off to war.
During scenes of Old Calvin Barr plodding along with life and generally doing nothing, there’s the presence of a black car watching him from afar. Eventually we discover this is the FBI who, when they finally introduce themselves, task him with saving the world by killing the Bigfoot, spreader of the aforementioned terrible disease threatening humanity’s existence. Reluctant at first, Calvin eventually accepts the mission after first discussing it with his younger brother, Ed (Larry Miller), a barber who cares deeply about his older sibling. I won’t ruin the Bigfoot section of the film – although the title kind of gives it away – but I will say during the Bigfoot section things do get a bit weird during the hunt and it all happens very quickly.
Far too quickly. It’s so quick that it made me wonder why even mention the creature in the title. When the movie was all said and done I thought back to what I watched and thought to myself it should be called The Man Who Killed Hitler and Spends His Final Years Wishing He’d Married The Girl.
Despite the messy plot, Sam Elliott delivers a very convincing performance of a reclusive man in his later years full of regret, anger and bitterness. He conveys a tortured soul carrying the weight of a lifetime, one filled with bad memories and you really feel for the guy. His few action scenes, like where he fights the young men in the car park or his encounter with the Bigfoot, aren’t so convincing but I think that’s more of an issue of poor fight choreography, editing and direction than Elliott’s acting ability.
Luckily, there’s not a lot of combat required of Elliott as he doesn’t really do that much. However, there are definitely some powerful moments, like his encounter with the FBI when Elliott really shows his acting ability and screen presence, overshadowing the other actors in the scene. It’s not hard to believe this is the same actor up for his first Academy Award in the latest A Star is Born remake.
What really lets this film down is how the story is told and what is told. A good part of the film focuses on Calvin Barr as an old man hanging around his town and essentially not doing much,except brooding or repeatedly picking up a box that he never opens. At random points we get flashbacks to the war where he eventually kills Hitler as well as scenes depicting his failed relationship with Maxine. Then very abruptly he’s on the hunt for the Bigfoot and kills it very soon after. It’s more like two different movies mashed into a single weird Frankenstein story and it didn’t work. There’s a lot of dragged out moments and the pacing was so slow in parts I found myself fidgety and bored and wanting to watch something else. Sad to say that scenes set in WWII, Hitler and his encounter with the Bigfoot were not enough to keep my interest.
With such an over-the-top title I really expected more from The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot. It’s well made with great production values and Sam Elliott delivering yet another fine performance, but these things aren’t enough to make up for a boring story. We really needed more plot with the hunt for the infection-spreading Bigfoot and less watching Old Barr in scene after scene of him essentially doing nothing. And when the ending finally comes there’s no payoff for having sat through 90 minutes of uninteresting storytelling.