Jared Moshe (director)
Signature Entertainment (studio)
07 May 2018 (released)
13 May 2018
Set amid the wild and desolate Montana plains, THE BALLAD OF LEFTY BROWN stars an almost unrecognizable Pill Pullman in the title role as a sixty-something cowboy out to avenge the brutal murder of his long-time friend and partner. Just when he is about to track down the suspects, an unexpected act of betrayal turns the hunter into the hunted.
The plot in this story of loyalty, revenge and justice as fairly straightforward as it were, though that isn’t to say the overall result suffers from it. Loyal and easily irritated cowboy Lefty Brown (P. Pullman) has been riding along Wild West legend Eddie Johnson (Peter Fonda) for the most part of his adult years. When Johnson gets appointed Senator of Montana, however, he decides to entrust the care of the ranch to Lefty – much to the chagrin of Johnson’s headstrong wife Laura (Kathy Baker). The day before the Johnson’s are about to leave for town one of the farmworkers reports the theft of three of Johnson’s horses. Together with Lefty and another cowboy employed on the farm the trio ride out into the Montana grassland to chase the thieves. Shortly after, the robbers set a trap and brutally kill Johnson with a shot through the head while the other two are injured. Thanks to Lefty’s shooting skills the bandits withdraw. Arriving back on the ranch, a devastated Laura blames Lefty for having failed, on this occasion, to protect her husband while out riding. Although Lefty knows that he could not have prevented the shootout in the hills he vows to track down Johnson’s killers and by doing so sees himself reunited with old pals US Marshall Tom Harrah (Tommy Flanagan) and Governor of Montana, James Bierce (Jim Caviezel). It is Harrah, a man who battles his own demons as well as alcohol, who rides alongside Lefty in pursuit of justice – accompanied by a young and bold gunslinger named Jeremiah (Diego Josef). After the trio manage to track down the outlaws’ hideout an unexpected situation occurs during which a Governor employee suddenly turns out on horseback with money for the outlaws. Initially unaware that the man had arranged to meet the outlaws, Lefty and Harrah try to warn the man that bandits are hiding in the hut. The noise alarms the horses which in turn alarms the bandits and in the confusion another brutal shoot-out takes place during which Jeremiah is badly wounded and the employee killed. Also killed are some of the bandits but leader Frank Baines (Joe Anderson) is captured. It is from this point on that events not only spin out of control but take a turn for worse… a turn that both Lefty and Harrah could never have anticipated…
Pullman delivers a strong performance as the unlikely hero Lefty Brown, with Tommy ‘Sons of Anarchy’ Flanagan in equally fine form as the tormented sheriff. Caviezel gives another worthy performance as the distinguished Governor with dark motives. Perhaps the biggest surprise here is that cult-actor Peter Fonda only lasts about five minutes into the film before his character is killed of, shame really. The first half of the movie focuses more on dialogue and the establishment of the characters while the second half is dominated by violence and bloody shootouts. The incidental music my H. Scott Salinas is atmospheric yet sparse, thus underlining the constant feeling of threat and menace throughout the film.