Big Jake, starring John Wayne, VHS video
Two out of five stars
This movie stars an older John Wayne, which is fitting, because the action is largely a weak remake of much of his earlier work in western movies. The plot is predictable, the dialog tries to be snappy and is not and there is just something disconcerting about automobiles and motorcycles in a western movie.
Wayne stars as an aging gunfighter called Jake, that for reasons never explained left his wife and sons. When a ruthless band of outlaws attack his wife’s ranch, killing many of the hands and kidnapping his eight-year-old grandson, they leave a ransom note demanding one million dollars. The men are led by a character played by Richard Boone and they will not hesitate to kill the boy or anyone else that comes between them and their prize. Wayne and a small group take a large box supposedly containing the ransom money and set out to meet with the criminal gang.
Although Wayne and Boone both made their careers acting in a western venue, this is nowhere close to a movie where either of them shines as an actor. There is an attempt to interject some humor by having two of Jake’s sons go with him to take on the kidnappers, but that also is a failure. The two sons and the father engage in some of the most absurd and strained dialog ever to appear in a Wayne movie. At times, they spend more time slapping each other around than planning how they will deal with the killers that they will be meeting. The viewer watches it hoping that it gets better but it never does.