An Eye For An Eye

Slow, intellectually empty, and as predictable as the chime on the hour, everything about this film is tired.

An Eye For An Eye

Director: Michael D. Moore
Distributor: Lion's Gate
MPAA rating: N/A
First date: 2008

From the unimaginative title on down, this is a thoroughly forgettable American Western from the tail end of the period when you could get away with making thoroughly forgettable American westerns.

Released in 1966, while Clint and Sergio and the boys were overseas re-writing the rules of the genre, and just before US-based filmmakers like Sam Peckinpah and Arthur Penn would usher in a new era in dusty realism, this tiny budget revenge fantasy marked one of the last of a long series of low brow, cliché-ridden cowboy flicks. Slow, intellectually empty, and as predictable as the chime on the hour, everything about this film is tired.

A simple payback scenario – as the title subtly suggests – the movie opens with the offscreen rape and murder of a screaming woman, along with her infant. The culprit, a guffawing psychopath played with unintentional comic zeal by Slim Pickens, lights their isolated cottage ablaze, and runs off.

For the next hour or so, we follow the widower (a bored Robert Lansing) as he rides out onto the plain in a quest to avenge their deaths. Along the way, he meets up with a bounty hunter (played by John Wayne’s son, Patrick, about whose performance the less said the better, but the word to bear in mind is “plywood”) who is on the trail of the same bad guy.

They join forces and manage to track down and confront Slim Pickens. However, they suck at their job, apparently, because Pickens shoots Lansing in the gun hand, and shoots Wayne in the head in such a way as to blind him (which, incidentally, seems both medically and logically impossible, given that bullets don’t actually have magic powers, the JFK assassination aside). Pickens then runs off, leaving the two protagonists in a quandary: one of them can’t see, and the other can’t shoot.

This being the West, and all, they still have to confront the bad guy, but HOW?

(If you guessed that they decide to work together, and the blind guy will do the shooting while the injured-hand guy will do the seeing, then you’re right! You see how the title is not just a biblical reference, but is almost foreshadowing? Or, at least, it would have been foreshadowing had Wayne’s character actually been in this for revenge, which he wasn’t, since he was a bounty hunter. Also, he is the only one who loses an eye, so there’s no real eye-trading going on. But still: “eye” in the title!)

These two protagonists are drawn from the most basic of archetypes (one is a dark, brooding hunk with a broken heart and a fast draw, while the other is a quick-tempered young man with something to prove). The bad guy is absurdly one-dimensional – he rapes, murders, and is generally hateful, but he’s also barely ever onscreen, so we can’t pretend he’s anything other than a shell of a character. The film even uses both a woman and a child as props, and then suggests (rather uncomfortably) that the child is the cleverer of the two.

Even for a Western, the plot is just about completely non-existent. An Eye for an Eye is, ultimately, in terms of entertainment value, unbelievably slow – in 90 minutes there are exactly two shootouts, and neither lasts longer than 20-seconds. So, imagine: that leaves almost 89-and-a-half minutes of Patrick Wayne’s impression of a fresh piece of writing paper!

On the positive side, the landscapes are pretty. And, horsies!


From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.

60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.