Rolling Thunder (1977)

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Major Charles Rane (William Devane) has spent 8 long years inĀ  a POW camp, being beaten and tortured. He returns home greeted as a hero, with his friend Johnny (Tommy Lee Jones). However life has moved on while the major has been away. His son doesn’t really know him and his wife has met somebody else. The Major is given a nice new car and a box full of silver dollars as a thank you for all he did during the war. A group of greedy thugs see him being presented with the gifts on TV and decide they want the silver dollars for themselves. The thugs break into the majors house and wait for him to come home and reveal the location of the silver dollars. When the major refuses, his wife and son are viciously murdered in front of him and his hand his shredded in a waster disposal.

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After months of recovery the major decides he is going to track down those responsible and seek retribution for his wife and son. All leading to a bloody and ferocious shoot-out in a brothel. Now fear not, I haven’t spoiled anything by revealing the death of the wife and son as it all happens in the first 15-20 mins. The rest of the movie consists of Major Rane recovering, learning how to use his hook hand and seeking down those responsible.

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Quentin Tarantino has named this as one of his favourite movies. So much so that he named a distribution company after it. William Devane is magnificent as Major Rane. He brings a raw intensity to the role, and I have always really rated him as an actor. Tommy Lee Jones is also great as Johnny Vohden. He doesn’t seem the brightest but his character is infused with a strong sense of loyalty, especially when the major tells Johnny that he’s found the ones that killed his family, all Johnny says is “I’ll get my stuff”.

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The script is written by Paul Schrader who tends to write a lot of these dark scripts, focusing on folks on the outskirts of society. Directed by John Flynn who also directed my favourite Steven Seagal flick ‘Out For Justice’. The final shoot-out is just amazing. Fizzing with energy you can see that both men are back where they belong, right in the thick of it. I really recommend this movie. If you’re a fan of gritty 70’s movies, then give this a shot.

5/5

JM

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