Those who count that immortal final freeze-frame in ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ among cinema’s most immaculate endings look away now. This elegiac western from Spanish director Mateo Gil flirts with Hollywood blasphemy by suggesting that Cassidy didn’t die in that Bolivian shootout, hardening instead into a grizzled gringo (Sam Shepard).
Living under the alias James Blackthorn, while Sundance’s fate is detailed in wistful flashbacks, he is roped into one last escapade by young Spanish prospector Eduardo (Eduardo Noriega), on the lam after stealing from a magnate.
If the ensuing scraps and scrapes lack the frisson of Butch and Sundance’s adventures, that’s perhaps the point. Handsomely shot against stunningly austere Bolivian vistas, the film works best as a quiet character study of a onetime hellraiser accepting that he truly is too old for this shit. Shepard's crusty charisma gives this dignified genre effort its pulse: a growl-off between his Butch and Jeff Bridges’s Rooster Cogburn is surely the next chapter.