Monday, March 1, 2010

Back in Time Reviews: Thunderheart (1992)

Certainly you have some movies in your life that are "those movies." You know, the ones that you return to time and again because they hit the sweet spot where they both resonate with you as well as being identified with a particular time in your life. For us Thunderheart is on that list.

Set against a sweeping background of the South Dakota badlands and the questionable federal involvement in Native American communities, the story is really about FBI Agent Ray Levoi (Val Kilmer) coming to terms with himself. He just happens to do it in the middle of a very complex mystery where death is on the line and with Native officer Crow Horse (Graham Greene) snapping at his heels while providing snarky commentary. Although the writer John Fusco doesn't have the Native cred of, say, Sherman Alexie (Smoke Signals) he does an honest day's work of researching and writing about a controversial subject. (And technically with his Italian heritage Fusco is at least as Native American as the "Keep America Beautiful" actor.)

The Commander's Rating: Four out of five Vulcan salutes.
Pros: Graham Greene, Sheila Tousey, and the good-looking version of Val Kilmer. Sam Shepard does a great job, too.
Cons: The plot does some harsh things to likable characters. And you'll spend the rest of your life wondering why the talented Sheila Tousey (Maggie Eagle Bear) didn't get more leading roles.
Recommendation: A great flick for a casual evening at home with loved ones and a bowl of popcorn. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll wonder about the truth of the underlying plot. (AFTER you watch the movie come back and check out the guy who plays Jimmy Looks-Twice, the real ARM, and what happened in South Dakota.)

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