The Alamo (2004)

(In theaters, April 2004) As a French-Canadian, I don’t really remember the Alamo given that I was never told about it in the first place. Things are unlikely to change with this film. Oh, the American jingoism is part of the film’s problems, but by no means the biggest one: Far more damaging is the chaotic storytelling, coupled with a lazy pacing that just makes one wish for a speedier massacre. Recent historical films such as The Last Samurai have proved that it’s feasible to create a historical tale that’s both clear and fast-paced. But The Alamo wastes so much time on trivialities that it struggles to keep our attention. Fortunately, a few things are worth staying awake for: Billy Bob Thornton’s excellent performance as Davy Crockett, the impressive historical re-creation of the fort and some of the final combat scenes. (Connoisseurs of camp may also appreciate Santa Anna’s over-the-top cruelty) Otherwise, well, it’s a long slog that actually gets worse near the end of the film: While a movie like The Alamo cries out for credits right after the death of the last American at the fort, this one (like Pearl Harbor) feels compelled to stretch the story even further to show ultimate American triumph. Er, no: It’s not okay to show Mexicans massacring Americans as bad and then Americans massacring Mexicans as good. Add to that the shameless hero-building (viz Crockett’s last scene), the bloodless combats, the overdone dialogues and the result is an Alamo likely to be forgotten.

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