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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Drama > The Man Who Came Back (2008/Lionsgate DVD)

The Man Who Came Back (2008/Lionsgate DVD)


Picture: C     Sound: C+     Extras: C+     Film: C+



Eric Braeden is a really good actor, surviving and thriving for decades on the endless daytime TV soap opera The Young & The Restless, but he was always a good, smart, likable actor and has a history of great guest TV appearances (Combat, Mission: Impossible, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Wonder Woman), the villain in The Rat Patrol and memorable feature films like Escape From The Planet Of The Apes and Colossus: The Forbin Project.  With all that, it still took years for him to get The Man Who Came Back (2008) made, but he finally did and it is gutsy if nothing else.


He plays a legendary gunman of the past, framed for a murder he did not commit, in part because he is a subversive threat to slave owners who want to keep things the way they are and do anything they need to do to stop him from making changes possible.  When the powers that be kill his wife and son, he goes into revenge mode and the town will never be the same again.


There are many things to like about Co-Writer/Director Glen Pitre’s work here, from the sincere attempt to portray the times as racist as they were (the N-word is used here as much as most uncensored Hip Hop songs) and shows African Americans as not just standing by and taking it.  That has some mixed results, but the real problem that breaks the suspension of disbelief is the High Definition shot with its constant motion blur and the mistake by Pitre and cinematographer Stoeps Langensteiner to use some shaky camerawork.  The result is that it looks like a strange flashback sequence from Young & The Restless instead of the gritty Western it also can be.


However, the cast is a big plus including the underused Billy Zane, George Kennedy, Sean Young, Carol Alt, Armand Assante, Peter Jason, Ken Norton, Jennifer O’Dell and Edwin Neal.  The script (by Pitre and Chuck Walker) is as ambitious as the project as a whole and there is more to like here than not, but a combination of behind-the-camera inexperience, lack of grasping where the Western as a genre stands to day and that camerawork holds this back from being the fully realized project Braeden had hoped for.  Not a failure or a disappointment, The Man Who Came Back is worth a look, especially if you like Westerns or Braeden because some heart and soul is in it.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image has that motion blur discussed, plus some detail and color limits that make all too soft.  I wonder if a Blu-ray version would help make this clearer?  Of course, the source is clean, but this should have been shot on film.  The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix is not bad but not great and does not take full advantage of the possibilities of multi-channel sound, though that has been a problem on all the Westerns that have been issued with 5.1 to date.  Extras include trailer gallery, deleted scenes, clip of its red carpet premiere and feature length audio commentary by Braeden, Walker and Pitre that is pretty good.  I hope Braeden gets to do more commentaries on his earlier works as well.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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