Sam Elliott is many things. A screen legend. An iconic voice. An iconic mustache. An Oscar nominee. Now the screen legend is taking on a couple of different kinds of legends in his latest film, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot. Writer-director Robert D. Krzykowski has the perfect star to headline this unusual adventure movie that spans decades. However, you’d never guess it by the title but The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot is actually rather somber, serious work about a man saddled with regrets and grief and not simply a B-movie romp of alternate history and the murder of a mythical creature. Despite a strong lead performance by Elliott and some strong direction by Krzykowski, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot is lacking in one area that proves to be quite detrimental for a film with such an outlandish title – it’s just not fun.
The first time we see Calvin Barr (Elliott) he’s sitting at a bar with a glass of whiskey in front of him. He stares at the glass before he finds himself swept up in the past, and then we see Calvin (Aidan Turner) in his younger years disguised as a Nazi as he enters a fortified location behind enemy lines. As you could probably surmise by the film’s title, Calvin is there to carry out a mission. But Krzykowski’s film isn’t going to unleash the full promise of the film’s title in the opening minutes, and the film quickly returns to the mournful Calvin in older age.
Throughout The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot does the film bounce between the two periods in Calvin Barr’s life. In his youth, Calvin falls for Maxine (Caitlin FitzGerald) and their romance is interrupted by his call to duty when war breaks out. In the present, Calvin is a quiet, almost broken man with little time for anyone except his beloved dog and barber brother Ed (Larry Miller). There’s a mournful quality that runs throughout both periods of Calvin’s life, though it really only feels palpable in Elliott’s scenes because the veteran actor is so brilliantly capable of wordlessly expressing what’s called of his character.
Eventually, Calvin is contacted by two government agents going by the names of Flag Pin (Ron Livingston) and Maple Leaf (Rizwan Manji). They want Calvin an his lifetime of experience to travel to Canada and kill Bigfoot, as the mythical creature is carrying a plague that will devastate humanity if it spreads. The mournful elder reluctantly accepts the mission, ensuring that he will live up to the title as The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot.
Bafflingly, the film is so incredibly serious. Too serious for its own good. Krzykowski delivers strong work as a director. The jumps between timelines are succinct and thought out with visual clarity that the past and present often echo each other. There’s just no sense of fun to anything in the movie. It’s not unreasonable to think that a movie entitled The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot would have a streak of absurdist fun running through it, and yet this film has none of that. You sit there waiting, hoping the film will finds its rhythm and that it will find some way to make its concept spring to life and it never happens.
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot is frustrating to watch for all of its 97 minutes as it always seems like it’s ready to break out and then it just doesn’t. Sam Elliott delivers some solid work in the lead but Krzykowski’s script is just so leaden that it drags Elliott’s work down. I admire Zrzykowski’s commitment to not let his outlandish concept just devolve into B-movie madness but the title screams a movie of absurdist fun, and it’s never absurd and never fun. I still can’t believe I’m saying that about a movie entitled The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot.
The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot
An outlandish premise taken entirely seriously, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot features a solid performance by Sam Elliott but fails to find any rhythm to its absurd premise as it sluggishly moves along without any absurd thrills.