By Dirk Sonniksen | November 12, 2013
Director: David Leeds
Writer(s): David Leeds, Richard Rothstein
Starring: Margot Kidder, Christopher Walken, Bo Brundin, Geoffrey Lewis, A Martinez
Mr. Rainbow (Christopher Walken) is a loner and seems happy as such. But loners are often the quickest to find trouble, and Mr. Rainbow soon makes the acquaintance of The Woman from England (Margot Kidder), a “lady” at the beck and call of The Captain (Bo Brundin). In addition, we have the Scalphunter (Geoffrey Lewis), a man that wants nothing more than a fast buck, and the Sunbearer (A Martinez), a Native American who is quick with a pair of dice and a bow and arrow. Mr. Rainbow and the rest of our cast of characters end up in the same dreary western town where their lives converge to fight for gold, love, and honor—but mostly for gold.
The greatest assets of Shoot the Sun Down are the actors. Walken underplays Mr. Rainbow almost to the point of making the remainder of the cast look campy. But somehow it works, and soon the connection between Walken’s character, Geoffrey Lewis, and Bo Brundin begins to take root, with Kidder and A Martinez popping in and out of the story—all ultimately headed in the same direction. The characters become linked together throughout the film in a way that not only epitomizes the premise of your basic western, but creates an adhesive that pushes the film forward. What begins as rather sluggish dialogue soon morphs into some great exchanges between our characters, with Geoffrey Lewis having some of the best lines of the film.
Shot on location in New Mexico, Shoot the Sun Down features some terrific scenery, and director David Leeds takes full advantage of the landscape to create a look that is varied from flat terrain, mountainous passes, and rolling dunes. It’s this back and forth between exterior environments that helps to broaden the feel of the film by not merely stranding Mr. Rainbow and the rest of the gang in a standard, dusty, western town.
Shoot the Sun Down starts out slow, almost too slow. My advice is to stick with it and soon you’ll be pleasantly engrossed in David Leeds’ homage to the Spaghetti Western. It’s a pity Leeds only made only one feature film as he was onto something with Shoot the Sun Down. It’s a film that contains elements that bring to mind directors like Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, as well as Italian filmmakers who influenced them, like Sergio Leone, a name synonymous with the Spaghetti Western. If you’re one that is entrenched in this genre, Shoot the Sun Down is well-worth a view, and with the director’s cut now available on blu-ray from Kino, it will make a great addition to your collection.