is like Easy Rider, except there is a
reason for the angst and defiance. When Robert Wolf’s mother suffered a brutal
attack, the Feds, being Feds, declined to prosecute the case. It was just too
much work. However, when Wolf took the law into his own hands, they made his
capture a top priority. There will not be a lot of sunsets for the biker and his
new traveling companion to ride off into during Jason Momoa’s directorial
debut, Road to Paloma (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in New York.
is a lot better at being a drifter than the self-destructive rocker, Cash
Guirgis. Nevertheless, they ride together for a while, sharing some colorful
encounters on the road. Wolf has secretly picked up his mother’s ashes from his
estranged reservation policeman father, to spread in accordance with her
wishes. Anticipating he might do something like that, Special Agent Williams
grabs a reluctant local white copper and heads into the Mojave after him.
and Guirgis will see some scenery worthy of John Ford on their journey,
stopping along the way for some bare-knuckle brawling and a little bit of
loving. For Guirgis that means lap-dances, but Wolf prefers using his
mechanical skill to seduce Magdalena and her broken down vintage car. It is
nice for a while, but it the law is never far behind.
Paloma is far more sensitive and
moodier than you would expect from Jason Momoa’s WWE-distributed
motorcycle-powered directorial debut. Small in scope, it is much more closely
akin to his Sundance series The Red Road
than Game of Thrones or Conan. They
both feature Native themes, as well Momoa’s wife, Lisa Bonet. Regardless, Paloma’s cinematic vistas and alienated
vibe are surprisingly effective. On the other hand, Momoa largely wastes the
timelessly cool character actors Lance Henriksen and Wes Studi (who has a bit
more to do than the former).
his own lead, Momoa is a serviceable renegade-brooder. He also generates some
decent heat with Bonet, as well they should. Even in his brief scenes, Studi
shows everyone how it is done, but it might co-writer Robert Homer Mollohan who
makes the strongest impression as the reckless Guigis. Unfortunately, Timothy
V. Murphy’s unapologetically serpentine Williams just does not ring true. Feds
are nothing if not politically astute, so the degree he goes about antagonizing
local law enforcement feels more like a clichéd contrivance.
Although it has some swagger, Paloma is not a meathead movie. It is a rather
dark, character-driven affair that has a real point to make. Essentially,
Momoa, Mollohan, and co-writer Jonathan Hirschbein suggest federal jurisdiction
over crimes committed by outsiders on reservation land has created an incentive
for predators to prey on Native victims. That is the good old Federal
government at work. Recommended on balance, Road
to Paloma opens this Friday (7/11) in New York at the Quad Cinema.
Labels: Jason Momoa, Vigilante Films, Wes Studi