Review: Kevin Costner and Diane Lane excel in gritty 'Let Him Go'
Courtesy of Focus Features
Does anybody know how to play a blue collar, working class gruff better than Kevin Costner? Don’t kid yourself, he’s likely become your dad’s favorite actor over the years thanks to “Yellowstone,” “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” and “Tin Cup.” Plus he just seems like an all natural guy, the last of a dying movie star breed who can sell a movie with just their name. Now he’s paired with an excellent Diane Lane in the thrilling “Let Him Go,” which sees the two pros as a farm couple out to recuse their grandson. They give it their all and Costner delivers his best on screen performance in over a decade. In fact, he and Lane are at the top of their game, turning an otherwise generic one note thriller into something far more meaningful.
The film is set about 50 years in the past, and though we’re never given a specific date, writer-director Thomas Bazucha doesn’t need to. We can infer from the passing cars and the creaky old farmhouse this is an entirely different era, one that’s rooted in homegrown values and hard work. At first, “Let Him Go” has the appearance of a melodramatic tearjerker surrounding loss, grief, and everything in between, but then subverts expectations by surprising the viewer at nearly every corner. Costner and Lane play George and Margaret Blackledge, the former a retired police officer with his old badge and pistol sitting firmly on the nightstand and the latter used to tend horses and now spends her days throwing icing on homemade cakes. Life is quiet on their ranch in Montana, whom they share with son, James (Ryan Bruce), his wife, Lorna (Kayli Carter) and infant grandson Jimmy. That is until everything is upended when James dies in a freak horse-riding accident.
Three years later, Lorna has decided to move on and marries the seemingly polite Donnie (Will Brittain) who throws on a smile but is sinister underneath. On a casual trip into town, Margaret observes the new hubbie slapping around her grandson and former daughter-in-law. Days later, without a goodbye, they vanish. Donnie made the haste decision to move in with family somewhere in North Dakota. Understanding the stakes which presides over their grandson, the Blackledge’s hop in their beaten-up Chevy station wagon and begin a road trip to get him back. Though she understands the legality of stealing a child away from their mother, Margaret – still haunted by the loss of her own son – is driven by her maternal instincts.
The pair make several pit stops in small towns looking for the whereabouts of Lorna and Jimmy but keep hearing murmurs about Donnie’s family legacy, notably that of the Weboys (wee-boys as it’s pronounced) who sound like the type of hillbilly clan from hell that Raylan Givens from “Justified” would love to take down. The Weboys run things and they don’t take kindly to old timers sniffing around their territory.
When Margaret and George finally make it to the Weboy compound, they understand why nobody tries to mess with them. They’re a ruthless bunch of characters, and all the actors are having a blast playing them: there’s Jeffrey Donovan as the slimy Bill and the phenomenal Lesley Manville playing the sadistic matriarch of the family, Blanche whose pork chop dinners, we’re told, are literally to die for. These country folks are all about power and one tension fueled dinner sequence highlights how imperative it is they save Jimmy. The less said about a standoff inside a secluded hotel room the better.
“Let Him Go” is based on Larry Warson’s 2013 novel and Bazucha doesn’t root his adaptation in stylized western tactics, it’s an honest vengeance thriller about the lengths we go to protect those we love, and the consequences of heroism. You’ll be rooting for the Blackledges every step of the way, and their united mission to save Billy is one that will resonate with audiences for generations to come.
Let Him Go opens in theaters Friday November 6th
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