Now, my travels in Texas are limited to two stopovers in Dallas-
Cuz that moment, ready-
And it doesn’t happen now, either. Can’t. It’s a crazy hopeless cause, just like the crazy hopeless cause of the, like, three guys holed up in that crumbling church who held off hoards of rampaging Mexicans and Urak-Hai and whatever. If the big hopeless crazy mad patriotic battle didn’t do it, no amount of horse-
Maybe it’s a Texas thing. Like I said, I don’t know from Texas, except for Lyle Lovett and the Austin Lounge Lizards. Maybe if you’ve grown up hearing whatever stories it is Texans tell one another when they’re not telling us Yankees not to mess with them, it’s more involving. There just didn’t seem to be a lot of context in which to place everything. I’ve heard of Sam Houston, of course — he invented the Astrodome, right? — as well as Dennis Quaid (Cold Creek Manor, Far from Heaven), and I’ve heard of Jim Bowie (Jason Patric) — the knife guy, not the Ziggy Stardust guy — and I’ve heard of Davy Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton: Bad Santa, Love Actually), but I never knew they all knew each other. They’re kinda like a League of Extraordinary Frontier Gentlemen, the way they’re all thrown in here together. It’s like it if weren’t true — and apparently it is — you mightn’t really believe it.
Except for Lt. Col. William Barrett Travis (Patrick Wilson), the commander of the Alamo whom I’d never heard of before — he’s kind of a boring prig, even though we’re supposed to believe that he’s a whoring son of a dog, or something. And that’s, conversely, the other problem: It’s not like this whole gang of extraordinary frontier gentlemen personalities are all that interesting. For a movie about a bunch of larger-
It’s too bad, cuz in an alternate universe, there’s a rousing version of this film that an alternate me is raving over, and through some kind of advanced transdimensional wormhole technology, Billy Bob Thornton manages to exist in both that universe and this one. He’s amazing here — and to be honest, it’s probably not just him; the script, by director John Lee Hancock (The Rookie), Leslie Bohem (Taken), and Stephen Gaghan (Abandon, Traffic), is most at ease with his character and with exploring the real man behind the Davy Crockett legend. But Thornton juggles all the contradictions of Crockett — now he’s a bit of coward, now he’s a bit of a hero; now he’s a cocky SOB, now he’s touchingly vulnerable — with a delicacy that makes Crockett real and expansive and subtle all at the same time.
But Hancock flubs it, and the whole film would be a cartoon if only it had the energy to be ridiculous. You can just about imagine that Santa Anna (Emilio Echevarría: Die Another Day), the self-