When one of a film’s advertised attractions is a dwarf dual wielding sawed off shotguns, it’s your own fault if you’re expecting Gone With the Wind. With this B-Movie expectation at the foreground, Pride is an action road film that will intrigue and entertain with its carnival of crazy.
Ransom Pride is just like any Western thug–a drinker and a killer, his whole life pulled from Sergio Leone’s notebooks. So when he finally bites a bullet, his brother Champ (Jon Foster) and his girl Juliette (Lizzy Caplan) are the only people ready to retrieve his body from a Mexican voodoo lady pissed that Ransom happened to kill her priest brother. However, Champ’s father, Reverend Pride (Dwight Yoakam), would rather see Juliette dead before he allows his other son to be tempted by the same wicked beauty that led Ransom to the dark side.
The Last Rites of Ransom Pride is a good old fashioned piece of sex and violence cinema, channeling the visual and narrative tones of Sin City and Grindhouse. Black and white flashbacks flesh out the history of Ransom and Juliette’s relationship and lines like, “Which one of you sorry motherfuckers wants breakfast in hell first?” make it difficult not to roar “YEAH!” with a ferocious affirmation of the film’s badassery. Even though Juliette’s a beauty, it doesn’t come at the expense of her skills as a shooter, brawler, and the film’s toughest character.
When the film isn’t shooting someone every ten minutes, the appearance of Kris Kristofferson (a fiend who helps the Reverend), Peter Dinklage (the shotgun toting dwarf), and Jason Priestly (a disgusting pervert), make up only some of the characters you can look forward to loving or loathing.
Beyond just the pleasure gleaned from a loyalty tale riddled with bullets, the story’s setting makes it a unique piece of Western cinema. The year is 1910 and when you first see Ransom Pride gunning down treacherous traders with a semi-automatic pistol, you know this isn’t the West of the Man With No Name. An old sidecar motorcycle and the Reverend Pride’s car all call out this place as an in-between region; a West still not completely tame, but with the modern world lurking behind the vistas…
The film does fall on some hard times, though: When Champ wears a thick bandanna around his head during the first half of the film, you wonder if he suffered a head wound you forgot about or time travelled to 1984 where he could be influenced by The Karate Kid.*
Also, the jarring montage of violent frames at the end of action scenes, providing “visual summaries” of the events just witnessed, prove redundant. Toss in the almost subliminal flashes that bombard the film for nothing more than visual flourishes (think of the lens flare abuse in Star Trek) and it makes you want to climb into the projectionist booth and perform some celluloid surgery.
A Western that features a female badass and a concoction of cultural objects entrenched within and outside of the genre’s mythos make it notable and surreal, respectively. Though I find some of the editing nutty and the denouement lacks an epic-ness common to Westerns, if a bunch of friends wanted to see a movie that allowed us to geek out about some bad-movie awesomeness, I’d recommend The Last Rites of Ransom Pride.
*Though Reverend accuses him of looking like an Apache, in an effort I believe to explain the choice of headgear, his comment is made too late to squash The Karate Kid thoughts. Plus, after losing the bandana, he begins wearing an equally ridiculous do-rag.