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average rating is 3 out of 5


Patrick Foley


Posted on:

May 14, 2024

Film Reviews
Directed by:
Jacob Thompson
Written by:
Tim Chamberlain
Eric Jewett, Lucas Slope

What does the retirement plan for an old outlaw look like? There’s so many of them littered throughout fiction, one must question; does the remote ranch come as part of the package? Have mortgage companies agreed to just not run background checks on these guys? And most importantly, do they get a heads up that a young, ambitious upstart is inevitably going to hunt them down to prove point? Jacob Thompson’s Gunslingers looks at the latter, in a fun if frivolous short.


In the mountainous wild, young outlaw Danny (Lucas Swope) has finally hunted down his target – the retired old gunslinger Henry McCarty (Eric Jewett). Danny is there to take out McCarty in a duel, to build his own notoriety, but the older man is unfazed. He invites Danny into his ranch to try and talk him down, but ambition and glory prove a deadly combination – leading to a moment of truth for the two of them.


Gunslingers is a cliché-filled yet endearing short film, which impressively outperforms a budget that is on the lower end of the scale to result in a tightly-wrapped little old-west legend. Anchored by classic features of the Western, the film never threatens an original thought. But it caringly arranges them to populate its world with two engaging characters and ever-building (if predictable) tension. It also welcomingly takes itself seriously throughout, feeling no desire nor pressure to apologise for its embrace of the Western’s greatest hits.


The film is a visual treat, wonderfully realising the vast mountain ranges that themselves are a staple of American cinema. The peaks protectively and ominously overshadow the McCarty ranch, the home and the hills intertwined in a comfortable embrace, which makes Danny’s arrival all the more discomforting. Tension starts to build within the home itself, director Jacob Thompson drawing the viewer closer and closer to the two men and using the normally reassuring staging of the family dinner table to harden their divide.


Eric Jewett is a stone wall as Henry McCarty, echoing the classic stoic John Wayne/Clint Eastwod types that so prominently dominate the genre. He is a man at comfort with his past – aware of the carnage he has wrought but seemingly un-haunted by it. Yet a deeper interpretation of the character is inviting itself to the audience, particularly when it becomes clear that McCarty may have had a very different name at some point. Lucas Swope swaggers and sways as the cocky, ambitious Danny – whose frequent ticks and deep drawl present an unnerving temperament. Danny’s journey is of his own making – an interesting twist on the genre that adds a layer of intrigue.


Ultimately, Gunslingers is a relatively straightforward Western short that extracts elements of its many inspirations and relies on the comfort of its genre. It doesn’t push any boundaries, but is entertaining enough to demonstrate why they lay where they are. It sits on the homestead rather than venturing on the frontier, but much like Henry McCarty, it shows there is still plenty of life left in the familiar.

About the Film Critic
Patrick Foley
Patrick Foley
Digital / DVD Release, Short Film
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