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Trivia / Goofs
Times of India
For some, he is a hero. For others, he is a reckless criminal. The film opens in 1862, set against the backdrop of Civil War. In turbulent times, a man stands up against callous Confederate soldiers.
Matthew McConaughey's Newton Knight is one controversial figure. But in this film, he remains singularly uni-dimensional. The scenario is superficial and jarringly too good to be true. But the spirited drama does its best to make amends by filling the plot with clap-traps (which can be called uplifting at places). The historical connect commands your interest for some time, but the clinical treatment of the plot can put you off. The film lacks a sense of drama and urgency, keeping the tone flat for its entire runtime.
The film rides solely on the shoulders of McConaughey. He valiantly pulls through his poorly sketched character, adding flair to the feeble writing of his part. He is morally grounded, his invisible halo stares at you in the face. His inspired performance evokes intrigue but the minute the frame shifts to the story, it gets lackluster.
The curiosity remains intact in this film but it suffers from a skewed moral pendulum. The guerilla warfare is a pivotal part of the plot but the filmmaker doesn't put it to much visual use. Knight's army suffers from cinematic utopia. In late 1800s, there are women soldiers deftly shooting rifles with Knight. Moreover, racial disparities in times when apartheid was a pressing concern, never comes to the fore in this film. For 1860s, the picture painted by the writers is far from convincing.
By the climax, the rebellion advances successfully to a great extent but the mirth of winning doesn't affect the audience. One can look at the movie as an awe-inspiring example of harmony that goes beyond race, colour and creed, united by a common goal. The film has all the makings of a fascinating drama but the half-baked plot turns to be too problematic. Trimmer editing and ingenious writing could have gone a long way in earning this one a cult status.
Victoria Bynum, writer of the book 'The Free State of Jones: Mississippi's Longest Civil War' makes a cameo in the film as a hospital nurse.
For scenes in the medical tent where the floor was covered in blood, water was often added to the fake blood mixture to expand its coverage and give it a slicker appearance, but consequently these scenes had to be shot quicker since the diluted mixture was absorbed by the wooden floorboards much quicker.
7000 people submitted headshots and résumés in order to be considered as an 'extra' for this film.