Shoot (1976)

Genres - Action, Adventure  |   Sub-Genres - Action Thriller  |   Run Time - 92 min.  |   Countries - Canada  |   MPAA Rating - R
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This Canadian drama is modest but effective stuff. The most interesting aspect of Shoot is its cool, methodical approach: the script presents a story that slowly but surely builds, never going big peaks of drama or action as it builds toward an inevitable showdown. Thus, it takes a while to build up its head of steam but this approach works because the second half is truly tense. The only real flaw in the story is a subplot about a potential adulterous relationship that goes nowhere. Director Harvey Hart keeps things subtle with his direction, wrapping the film in atmospheric visuals and getting low-key performances from his cast. Cliff Robertson is excellent as the quietly mad protagonist, painting a chilling portrait of a man whose dissatisfaction with his post-military life leads to dangerous choices for himself and others in a tense situation. Ernest Borgnine also turns in a fine performance as the most sensible member of the hunting group, providing a nice contrast to Robertson's work. It's worth noting that Shoot is considered by some to be a commentary on gun culture but there's more to it than that: it really seems more interested in being a critique of the macho mindset and how the need to assert manly authority can override humanity and common sense until the only possible result is tragedy (a theme driven home by the finale). Shoot might not be the most original meditation on these ideas but it pursues its ambitions with quiet effectiveness. As a result, it is worth a look to fans of offbeat 1970's cinema.