Our rating: 4 out of 5
reviewed by: Stephanie Vale
As goes the Alamo, so goes Texas.
IIIII IIIII III
Etched in stone, signifying the long 13-day siege of the Alamo. The dust clears. Bodies are strewn everywhere. Mexicans. Americans. Texans. Men. Boys. All lying on the ground, unmoving and bloodied. All dead.
Rewind back in time a bit: Texas, long known as the land of second chances, is the place where men go to start over. Military man William Travis (Patrick Wilson) is one of them: having recently divorced his wife and left his son in the care of another, he travels to his new post as second in command overseeing the Texan army encamped at the Alamo. The Alamo is an old mission town -- hardly a military stronghold -- and being difficult to defend and near the Mexican-Texas border has been occupied by both the Mexican and Texan Armies multiple times over the years. Travis believes he has been given a secondary post, lowly and undeserved. But he is unprepared for what he will encounter at the Alamo.
Jim Bowie (Jason Patric), known to all as the best knife fighter around, heads up his own group of men at the Alamo: militia men. Almost from the first moment they meet, Bowie and Travis butt heads over who is really in charge of them (Travis is left in command when his superior leaves to conduct some personal business). David Davy Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton) soon arrives to tour the area, awakening the attention, curiosity and respect of the men who admire the heroic Crockett, who is known for killing bears in the wilds of America. But when the Mexican army's thousands show up shortly after, under the leadership of the proud, strutting General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana, the men of the Alamo must band together in order to fight off the attackers. Fewer than 200 men in the Alamo against the Mexican army's thousands under General Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana, the odds seem impossible. Dispatches are quickly sent off to General Sam Houston (Dennis Quaid), begging the aid of the army.
Houston begins to gather an army to ride to the aid of the Alamo, but with Santa Ana attacking with cannons and men, and time running out, will the army get there in time? Can anybody save the Alamo?! One particularly memorable moment of the film, comes when David (as he prefers to be called) Crockett climbs up onto the post wall, listening closely to war-like drums and military anthem that Santa Ana plays on schedule every night before the canons begin a fresh attack on the Alamo. Crockett pulls out his fiddle, and begins to play a haunting melody that perfectly compliments and harmonizes with Santa Ana's war music. That night, the cannons were silent. There is some drinking, a divorce is finalized (papers signed), military men own slaves, there is fighting and the executing of innocent people, there is lots and lots of violent fighting (with blood and death, but nothing extraordinarily graphic: there is one scene that goes a bit far -- the bad guys killing the good in a gory way). Surprisingly, there is not as much language as I would have expected from a film like this: 1 use of jack*ss, 1 son of a b*tch, 2 of sh*t, and 3 of d*mn. The content issues are mostly what you would expect from an epic film about a deadly battle.
This epic film is worth the ticket price to see Billy Bob Thornton's Davy Crockett alone (I'm not a fan of Thornton, but must give him credit for an excellent job well done with this bigger than life hero from American history!). A bit slow at times due to the pauses between fighting and not quite as dynamic a film as it could have been, I still feel this movie is worthwhile and under-appreciated at the box office. For those of us who never really knew too much about the Alamo except that we were supposed to remember it, this film delves into the story of what really happened. Showing the bravery, courage and strength of will of the almost 200 men standing up against Santa Ana's thousands, and the spirit of those who fought to be known as Texans.