From the director of American Gigolo and Affliction comes The Walker, a political thriller starring Woody Harrelson. The Walker, which is both about political maneuvering and a murder, has a lot going for it, but in the end it lacks the punch I was hoping for.
Harrelson stars as Carter Page III, an upper class gay man who has made a career - or at least a social one - of accompanying the wives of politicians to various events while their husbands are unavailable. One day, though, he finds that in Washington, your friends are only such so as long as you can't damage their reputations. When he comes across the dead body of one of his enemies, he becomes suspect number one in the murder investigation. His own investigation brings him to the realization that one of his closest allies may be responsible.
The plot sounds all well and good, but director Paul Schrader keeps things so subtle and suppressed that it never amounts to much. Other than the performance by Harrelson, which is about as good as we've seen from the actor in a long time, the movie lacks the power needed to make things work. Crime thrillers do not need to be action packed, but there needs to be some level of excitement, whether through political intrigue, threat of death and so on and so forth. Schrader, who also wrote the film, fails to erect any kind of suspense.
Some may claim that The Walker is not about the murder mystery but about how quickly someone can fall in Washington, but I don't buy that. Having just watched the movie a couple weeks ago, I don't even remember how it ends. I was mildly intrigued for a while, but by the third act I all but stopped paying attention. So little happens that it's practically impossible to recommend this film.
That aside, the writing, mood and acting in the film are spot on; it just lacks a purpose. A few tweaks here and there and The Walker could have been something; instead, it will remain as one of those movies-Woody-Harrelson-starred-in-but-no-one-has-ever-heard-of-nor-cares-about kind of films. Decent, but without an effective ending, The Walker has and will remain forgotten.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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