Revenge gets old school in ‘Rolling Thunder’ now available on Blu-Ray

Posted in Blu-Ray/DVD, Movies by - February 09, 2015
Revenge gets old school in ‘Rolling Thunder’ now available on Blu-Ray

Without having to quote any ancient Kilngon proverbs, the history of cinema has seen its fair share of down and dirty revenge stories.  Rolling Thunder takes us back to right after the Vietnam war when tensions were high for the young men coming home from war and having trouble adapting to life after combat only to find there was a fight right in their own backyards.

As Major Charles Rane (William Devane) returns home to San Antonio, Texas after 8 years in captivity as a prisoner of war, he arrives to a hero’s welcome.  He and his friend John Vohden (Tommy Lee Jones) have endured years of torture both mental and physical, only to arrive home and find even more torture waiting for him on his home turf.  His wife Janet has fallen in love with another man and his son doesn’t even recognize him, and on top of all that, the publicity he receives as a returning hero along with the cash he’s been award brings the unwanted attention of some dangerous  hoodlums.  When they kill his wife and family and leave him for dead, he Vohden team up to hunt them down and put into action what they were trained to do as the look for some very basic and some very real revenge.

Sometimes the simple things are just the best.  Director John Flynn working from a script by Paul Schrader and Heywood Gould crafted a bare bones tale that is perfect in its simplicity.  Shot in a fairly stunning fashion, this narrative unfurls in the shadows as this man simply wants to get his life back on track while everything around him throws up road blocks every step of the way.  Flynn moves it all along at a good pace and the script by Schrader that was ultimately refined by Gould takes us into some dark places of the human heart, as we see the mindset of the hero shift to enact what seems to be the appropriate course of action by any means necessary.  Devane truly embraces the heart of man who has returned from darkness only to find still alive in well in a place that he is supposed to be safe.  This film and the actors play the powerful moments with a calm and quiet power to it all.

Devane plays the role with such a calm understated brilliance that it is hard to over look.  He doesn’t play the part for grand dramatics and emotion, but when all these horrible things happen to them, he simply absorbs because that’s what he was trained to do and as we watch him subsequently respond to it all in kind, we see his character have purpose once again.  Tommy Lee Jones in one of his earlier film roles is easily Devane’s equal returning home as a man out of place and out of time.  Knowing how to act but truly not knowing what to ultimately do with himself, both Devane and Jones work that unseen chemistry of two men who have been to hell and back quite well making the ultimate impact of it all that much more powerful.

What it truly striking about Rolling Thunder at the end of the day, is its overall mood.  There’s no sweeping high drama, just the calm and cold nature of revenge making for an unsung little picture that deserves to be seen.

The HD transfer on the Blu-Ray is clean, all be it unremarkable as the original source material wasn’t necessarily in fantastic shape but it looks good enough.  Special features include interviews with actors William Devane & Tommy Lee Jones as well as writers Paul Schrader and Heywood Gould, along with the theatrical trailer, TV spots and a stills gallery.

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David Voigt, has been a lover of cinema all his life and an actual underpaid critic for a solid 5 years covering everything that the city of Toronto has to offer. He was a content manager in video distribution industry before that and his love of all things cinema goes back to his first moments in awe looking up at the big screen. His 12 years of experience on the home entertainment side of the business have provided him with a unique view on what is worth spending your hard earned entertainment dollars on. Combine that with his unquestioned love of film, David should be your only stop to find out about the best in film, not only in Toronto, but worldwide.