Perhaps not since “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” have we had such a long and descriptive and spoiler-laden title …
Or do we? Does “The Man” in this movie really kill Hitler and then Bigfoot?
And wait — there’s a Bigfoot?
I’ll leave it to you to discover the answers in this strange and original and at times surprisingly lovely bit of folklore from writer-director Robert D. Krzykowski, which benefits greatly from the magnificent presence of the gravel-voiced Sam Elliott, who exudes effortless charisma as the title character.
No, not Hitler. No, not Bigfoot. He’s “The Man.”
With a timeline that hops back and forth between WWII and many decades later, and a tone that shifts from B-movie adventure to an almost indie-style, melancholic rumination on the passage of time and the lingering pangs of great love lost, “The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot” is a perfect vehicle for Elliott’s legendary persona as the guy with the growling delivery and the don’t-mess-with-me aura who just might have a warm heart beating beneath all the machismo.
Elliott is Calvin Barr, a quiet loner in a small Northeast town along the Canadian border. He has two friends: his dog Ralph and his younger brother, a barber named Ed (the comedian Larry Miller, doing fine dramatic work).
One late night as Calvin exits his neighborhood bar, three young toughs surround him and say they’re taking his car.
Big mistake, young toughs. Huge. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the callback to Larry Miller as the salesman in “Pretty Woman.”)
The manner in which Calvin dispenses with the would-be carjackers is our first indication there’s more to this guy than walking his dog and having a few drinks while playing out the string.
Cue the flashback sequences, where young Calvin (played by the Irish actor Adian Turner) is an American soldier and skilled linguist who has been assigned to infiltrate Nazi Germany and get close enough to Hitler to assassinate him at close range.
We also learn just before Calvin went off to war, he had fallen in love with a schoolteacher (Caitlin Fitzgerald). (The scene in which they part ways on the night before Calvin ships out is beautifully rendered.)
To this point our story seems pretty conventional and traditional — and then along comes the Bigfoot factor.
In the more recent timeline, an FBI agent (Ron Livingston) and Canadian Royal Mounted Police official (Rizwan Manji) show up on Calvin’s doorstep and tell him a story straight out of a horror movie.
Turns out Bigfoot is real and on the loose — AND is carrying a deadly virus that kills every creature in its vicinity. If the big guy isn’t stopped, the nightmare plague could spread to every corner of the Earth and wipe out the human race.
Ah, but Calvin in one of the few humans on the planet with an apparent immunity to the virus. Also, he has legendary tracking skills, dating all the way back to his time in the service. Despite his advanced age, Calvin might be the only human on the planet who can actually find and kill Bigfoot!
How about that.
Dropped into the Canadian wilderness and armed with a shotgun and a hunting knife, the weary Calvin sets off on one last mission.
What happens next is chilling, creepy, disturbing, sad — and not what you might expect.
Kudos to writer-director Krzykowski and the production, special effects and set design teams for creating plausible backdrops for a pulpy World War II thriller, a character study and a sci-fi adventure.
As for Sam Elliott, a star is well-worn — but still has plenty of mileage left in him.
‘The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then Bigfoot’
RLJE Films presents a film written and directed by Robert D. Krzykowski. No MPAA rating. Running time: 98 minutes.