If I had to make a list of movie genres I hated most, the Western genre would certainly make the top of the list. Second to the Kennedy family, the Irish second class white men of America have never plagued the country with a worse legacy than that of the Hollywood Western. Never has a genre convinced wannabe tough guys that they were tough than the Western. John Wayne may have been a cowardly draft dodger, but he certainly did his part in making American males think going to war was the most courageous thing a Yank could do. Of course, there are some cool new Westerns subgenres out there like the Surrealist Western (El Topo) and the Acid Western (Dead Man), but there are also some new pathetic Cultural Marxist Western subgenres like the Hollywood-approved anti-European-American Revisionist Genre (Dances With Wolves, Little Big Man), degenerate cinema where the viewer is supposed to feel sorry for the poor noble savage. Brit Indie director Alex Cox certainly made the right kind of Western with his satiric Acid Western Walker, a film that shits on the "heroic" legacy of the American John Ford Western.
Walker is loosely based on the real-life American filibuster William Walker, an educated Renaissance man from Tennessee who had the luxury of being the president of the Republic of Nicaragua (1956-1957). Unfortunately for William Walker, his fellow white men from the British Empire felt him to be a menace and handed him over to some Injuns from Honduras who executed him. Alex Cox’s Walker follows the political rise and fall of Walker, a man who has no problem getting tons of men killed for his idealism, an idealism that is never completely apparent. Knowing auteur Alex Cox was the man that brought us the American Masterpiece Repo Man, one can expect Walker to be one of the funniest (in bad taste, of course) character-driven Westerns ever made.
Walker is played by a young(er) Ed Harris, who was the perfect actor to play the lead. Ed Harris is generally known for playing very serious and stoic characters, but I have always felt Harris was a little overacting in his seriousness. Of course, in a Western satire Harris’s sometimes silly stoicism works out to the film's comedic advantage. Whether leading his men to the slaughter via Sam Peckinpah-esque style battle brutality or attempting to sexually satisfy the hot Tamale of a spicy Señorita, Ed Harris delivers with silly stoic absurdity, a tough acting accomplishment indeed. I have not enjoyed Ed Harris in a role this much since his role as a mangle-eyed Mafia man in David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence. It just goes to show, if you have the right director, an actor can be led into the path of his full potential.
The Clash lead front man Joe Strummer not only makes an appearance in Walker, but he also provided the wonderful atmospheric soundtrack to the film. If there is one thing that made Spaghetti Westerns better than their earlier Hollywood counterparts, it was their intense reverb-fueled melodic soundtracks. Walker follows in the tradition of a Neo-Western with a more than suitable soundtrack. Walker is also further evidence that Alex Cox is probably the greatest “Punk Rock filmmaker” to ever live. Of course, Penelope Spheeris made a couple Punk Rock SINematic masterpieces (The Decline of Western Civilization, Suburbia) before spewing out Hollywood garbage, but Alex Cox’s has never compromised his position as an Anarchist auteur.