Michael Cimino’s scintillating debut takes a pristine bow onto BluRay, straddling whimsicality and hard edged fatalism, and marking a fecund period in Eastwood’s career that saw him using his box office clout to explore more morally complex characters. Clint is always an actor who is at his best exploring the darkness and ambiguity beneath his flawed heroes, rather than the one note seeker of justice that his most commercially successful roles would suggest.
Cimino had worked previously with Eastwood as a screenwriter on Dirty Harry sequel Magnum Force, but choosing him as a collaborator on his first feature must have been a daunting choice. It is one that pays dividends for them both; the direction is spry and elegant, and Eastwood gives a relaxed performance, allowing Jeff Bridges' amiable doofus Lightfoot to steal the individual scenes, whilst always being in control of the film's focus.
This is a film that's elegiac, wonderfully wry, and melancholic; by turns comedic and tragic. Eastwood has always been a more complex figure than his Republican leanings and fascistic cop Harry Callahan would have you otherwise believe. Bridges is one of those actors who doesn’t always get his just rewards because he makes this acting game look so effortless. Here he is on top Oscar nominated form, holding his own against the taciturn Thunderbolt. Like a depression era John Steinbeck classic turned into a modern day crime movie, this shows the light and the dark that makes the US such an endlessly fascinating landscape. Thunderbolt may be grasping for the American Dream, but at what cost?
Read the full review by Jason Abbey at The Movie Waffler