DVD Review: The Man Who Came Back

The Man Who Came Back
Starring Eric Braeden, Billy Zane, Arand Assante, Carol Alt
Directed by Glen Pitre
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Release Date: December 9, 2008

I am an old fashioned type of moviegoer. I like my gun battles hyper kinetic and unrealistic, and my main characters to be no nonsense do-gooders with shades of gray. I also like buddy-buddy action movies but that is neither here nor there. My point is, there is nothing wrong with a movie filled with mindless shoot-em-up gun battles, and unrealistic scenarios. If you are a fan of this type of movie, then perhaps The Man Who Came Back is right up your alley.

Set years after the end of the Civil War, Eric Braeden stars as local legend and war hero Resse Paxton. Paxton is accused of hanging a recently freed black by the racist mayor Billy Duke (James Patrick Stewert) and sentenced to jail. When the mayor and his cadre of ruthless thugs murder both his wife and son in front of his eyes, Paxton has no choice but to take revenge on those who are responsible as The Man Who Came Back.

Now before you folks start shooting your six shooters in the air with excitement, the film is not as a good as the premise. The movie, for the budget that it was shot under, is pretty decent but overall not so great.

One of my main problems with the film is the how it is shot. Its use of hand-held cameras and documentary-style filming makes it look like a really long episode of The Hills. Now, I know this film was probably made for next to nothing but I think the producers should have considered putting more cash into the actual filming of the movie. Presentation is very key for a movie since it is such a visual medium and when you decide to shoot the film in this manner, a lot things are sacrificed. The location shots looks less dynamic, the sets look a little less impressive and realistic, and the action sequences look staged.

The acting is not all that bad. Eric Braeden, best known as Victor Newman on The Young and The Restless, does a good job as the old war hero Paxton and does his best to channel his inner Charles Bronson a la Death Wish. Whether this is a good or bad way to go is up to the audience to decide. While some of the action sequences are a bit of a stretch for a man his age, his calm, cool demeanor more than makes up for it. The rest of the actors do alright as well but read like a list of actors who used to be popular. Billy Zane, Sean Young, and Armand Assante were big stars at one point in their careers but now end up playing second fiddle to a soap opera star. I’ve always had a soft spot for Billy Zane and watching him act, I couldn’t help but wonder why he is not in more mainstream movies. Regardless, the actors all look like they are having a good time and that goes a long way with the script being less than stellar.

Writers Chuck Walker and Glen Pitre definitely had a vision for what they wanted in their film, though if I were in their shoes I might have just gone a different route. Supposedly, this film is based on true stories of one of the bloodiest worker strikes in American history but that is mentioned only in the first 10 minutes of the movie. It is mostly used as a backdrop to this revenge story and probably should have been left out all together. There is definitely a story in there but The Man Who Came Back is clearly not about that so why not go the whole way and just make the film about Paxton’s character?

I cannot recommend this movie to anyone but perhaps a Eric Braeden fan. The movie is decent compared to most direct-to-DVD movies, so if you are in the mood for a cowboy revenge movie, you might want to consider The Man Who Came Back.

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