The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot, 2018.
Directed by Robert D. Krzykowski.
Starring Sam Elliott, Aidan Turner, Ron Livingston, Caitlin FitzGerald, and Larry Miller.
Decades after ending World War II by assassinating Adolf Hitler in an undercover operation so covert it never existed, unsung American hero Calvin Barr is called upon by the secret services to save the day again. Now he must hunt down the fabled Bigfoot, carrier of a deadly plague that could destroy mankind, hidden deep in the Canadian wilderness. Last time he left behind the love of his life. This time his legend, as the ageing veteran confronts the mythological beast as well as his own mythic past.
Hitler, Bigfoot, character driven drama. An unusual trio, wouldn’t you say? Who on earth would try to make a film that encompasses all three? Robert D. Krzykowski, that’s who. He’s clearly a ballsy man, but does his willingness to take risks pay off?
The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot follows Calvin Barr. Two Calvin Barr’s, to be exact. A present-day Barr (Sam Elliot) and his younger self (Aidan Poldark Turner). The story cuts back and forth between the present and the past, chronicling WWII Barr’s mission to assassinate Hitler alongside Present Barr’s mission to… find a purpose? Get over the loss of his sweetheart? Generally stop being a grumpy arse? All the above, I guess. Whatever his goal, it’s most certainly not to kill the Bigfoot, at least at first.
If the film had just continued in that vein, The Man Who Killed Hitler and then the Bigfoot would have been a perfectly reasonable character drama. The kind that you see on BBC on slow Sunday evening. The music is nice, the acting is good, and there are some genuinely lovely shots scattered around. There’s no real drive to the story, but it’s interesting to watch a fine actor like Sam Elliot mope around while he mulls over his far more interesting past, which really isn’t given enough screen time. However, the film doesn’t continue in that vein forever. In the closing third (that’s right, the very last act of the movie) Barr decided to take up his rifle and hunt the Bigfoot.
Again, I will admit that including Bigfoot in the closing moments of a character drama requires big ol’ cojones. But honestly, it just doesn’t gel. Though there are moments of speculative fiction in the movie – Barr’s incredible fighting ability even in his old age and the whole assassinating Hitler bit, for example – they are few and far between. The rest of the film plays like any other realist drama, and when something as speculative as the motherfucking Bigfoot enters the playing field, it throws a killer curveball. Unfortunately, Bigfoot is pitching for the opposing team, and that curveball strikes your hometown boys out.
I understand the appeal of having the two worlds of fiction collide, but honestly, it’s one step too far for me. It messes with the film’s internal congruence and will throw many audience members off kilter. I really wish it had worked, and I can’t help but admire the director’s gusto, but this is one wish that didn’t come true.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
James Turner is a writer and musician based in Sheffield. You can follow him on Twitter @JTAuthor