Blackthorn Directed by Mateo Gil The last days of Butch Cassidy

Watching the world-weary can get wearisome—particularly when they don’t have much to do. That’s the case in Blackthorn (directed by Mateo Gil, written by Miguel Barros), a wan Western that posits that Butch Cassidy, infamous bandito and partner of the Sundance Kid, did not in fact die in Bolivia in 1908. No, he actually lived into his senior years in the country, quietly keeping horses and going by the name James Blackthorn. And he would have kept out of the law’s eye if it weren’t for an itch to see his homeland one last time, an expedition that goes awry and once against casts his as a man most wanted.

At the beginning of the film, Blackthorn (Sam Shepard) sells his horses, says goodbye to his native lover (Magaly Solier), and sets off for the U.S. to see the son he’s never known and live out the rest of his years. But while traveling through the desert, he finds a dead horse, then dodges a gunshot that spooks away his own. The man responsible is Eduardo (Eduardo Noriega), a Spaniard who’s just looking for new transport. But Blackthorn had his life’s savings and possessions tied to his horse and is about a second away from killing Eduardo, who’s naturally begging for mercy. He claims to have access to a lot of money, cash he stole from the owner of local mines. If Blackthorn lets him live, he’ll pay him his lost money back. Blackthorn relents, and the two travel to the mines.

And that’s really about it, except for the cowboys who know Eduardo’s a thief and are after the pair. It’s not exciting; gun fights are rote and not terribly rife with tension. Also ineffective are abrupt flashbacks showing Butch, Sundance, and their lovely sidekick Etta (Dominique McElligott) immediately before and after they go to Bolivia—but there’s nothing to indicate the jumps in time periods, which is frequently confusing. The film serves up the desert, the loner, and the trouble, but it’s all so lifeless you’ll merely wish Cassidy had chosen to stay dead.

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