The first time I’d seen Scott Eastwood in a film, and knowing that it was Clint Eastwood’s son I was watching on screen, was in Texas Chainsaw 3D. I wouldn’t have known if it wasn’t for my wife asking if it was him that had appeared on the television screen during some moment of the movie. But his part of that movie was very minimal and unimportant, not to mention that the movie wasn’t highly regarded as anything but a B-graded horror movie (which I’d liked, in spite of that). Not long after that appearance, I’d seen him again in the film, Fury, as Sergeant Miles, and in the film we’re going to talk about today, Diablo.
As I’d mentioned, Scott Eastwood looks remarkably so much like his father that you could mistake photos of him to be ones of his father in the 50s or 60s. Seeing that Scott obviously wanted to make a name for himself without the aid of the family name during his first five films, you’d think he wouldn’t want to tread in the same genre that made his father famous—namely, western films. However, after reading up on Scott, it’s said that directors and producers send his agent numerous western scripts per month and decided on this one due to its unique plot, which we’ll dive into soon.
Clint Eastwood is one of my favorite actors and I have quite a large collection of his films on DVD and Blu-Ray, so seeing that his son, Scott, starred in this film pricked my ears up a bit. Knowing that Clint is aging well past his acting prime—and has actually gone on record to say that he’s retired from acting—I kind of want someone to fill his shoes, to carry the torch of his bad-assery into this generation of film, so who better to take that place than his own son, Scott Eastwood?
As always, going through the new releases on Netflix, I’d stumbled across this one, actually thinking it was an old film of Clint Eastwood’s, and had become intrigued by the plot description. However, this was chosen before my new rule of only watching movies with an average star rating of three or more. Diablo only had 2.5 at the time, but I’d taken a chance and thought it’d be worth it.
Was I right? Let me give you the synopsis and we’ll discuss.
A young civil war veteran, Jackson (Scott Eastwood), is forced on a desperate journey to save his kidnapped wife, Alexsandra (Camilla Belle).
So, yes, this film starts off pretty well, giving us your normal western fare and scenery. As the small synopsis spells out, we know that Eastwood is going on a journey to find his wife, so that conjured up images of him riding his horse through the wilderness to do just that. At times, yes, that’s what he’s doing, but the film gets pretty boring during these areas of the film and only gets interesting when he meets up with the character of Ezra (Walton Goggins). But just as it gets interesting with that character, he goes away and isn’t seen for a while. The movie just gets a little boring again until Eastwood’s character finds his old friend, Benjamin Carver (Danny Glover). At this point of the movie, I thought it was going to duplicate the story we’d seen in Unforgiven, with the two men traveling together on the journey.
I’ll stop there because the twist of the story is shown to the audience and becomes quite a different movie from then on out, presenting a problem in my opinion. See, the one-eighty shown here is given way too early and changes everything about the movie, who the good guys are, who the bad guys are, and just leaves everything confusing for a bit. The line in the sand becomes a bit faded. I’ll say this—most of you will be able to see the twist coming and it can appear shocking to some, but after realizing there’s still a bit of time left in the movie, it’ll probably make you tilt your head in puzzlement.
Without that shake-up that’s presented to us, I still don’t know if the movie would’ve been any better. I guess I just had a whole different movie plot in my head when I’d started watching this, like many of the westerns I’ve seen—the good guy is wronged, goes on a vengeful adventure, and finally gets his comeuppance. Though we get to see Eastwood’s journey come to an end and give us a pretty good ending to the movie, the twist that was shown to us to end the second act throws this whole story into the air and confuses the hell out of the audience. Again, I’m not going to give anything away, but you’re left throughout the third act wondering if that twist was just something that was going to manifest back into alignment, changing everything back to the way we all thought it was headed in the first place.
If there’s anything I’d liked about this film was Eastwood’s performance…he really has a persona and a way about him, just like his father, and can act. Though he has little to work with in this script, he does what he can with it and I’ll applaud him for that. The inclusion of Walter Goggins in this film added levity to Eastwood’s serious tone, basically giving us his Boyd Crowder character from the “Justified” television series (I highly recommend that show), but it seems that’s what we usually get from him in any film or television show in which he’s seen.
Director Lawrence Roeck doesn’t have too many films under his IMDb bio, this being only his second film. Without getting into the reveal of the twist and despite it, he does a decent job in his direction of the movie, giving us good views of the scenery as well as tight shots to show Eastwood’s character’s tension at times. The combination of Roeck’s direction and Dean Cundey’s cinematography make this a beautiful picture to see, but it’s not enough to help the boredom you may feel when experiencing this film.
Maybe some of the blame can be placed on the writers of the story. I see that Carlos De Los Rios is credited as one of them and had noticed that some of his past work is just some of the rip-off movies that take advantage of the original film’s fame, like King of the Lost World (seemingly a play on King Kong and Jurassic Park films) or The Da Vinci Treasure (The Da Vinci Code). Plus, Lawrence Roeck, himself, is credited as one of the writers, which doesn’t say much.
If you haven’t guessed my take on this film already, let me give you my final “bit” on Diablo.
It’s a shame, really, especially after reading some of the backstory on Scott Eastwood and his choice to star in this film. Being such a fan of his father’s and wanting someone to take over the mantle that he’d created for himself since the late 60s, I was quite disappointed in the outcome of this film. It had some potential, left me wanting something to cling onto, but just let me down after watching it. I’ll say this, though…the look of the film and Eastwood’s presence is a saving grace and kept me watching. Many films that weren’t as bad as this one had me turning them off before the they ended, but I kept going forth and stayed until the credits rolled. The end result, however, speaks volumes, and what it speaks, wasn’t very good. Diablo is a bit boring, showed its hand way too early, and wasn’t very satisfying at the end. If you’re someone who wants to watch Scott Eastwood’s every move as a fan, then go right ahead and spend an hour and a half with this. Otherwise, this should be skipped.
Thanks for reading!