The somber period western “Echoes of War” retraces some well-traveled moral ground but is invigorated by a cast that includes James Badge Dale, Ethan Embry and William Forsythe.
Returning from the Civil War uninjured but unable to leave that battlefield mentality behind him, Wade Riley (Dale) takes temporary residence in the Texas homestead of his widowed, peaceful, Scripture-quoting brother-in-law (Embry) and two kids (“It Follows” breakout star Maika Monroe and Owen Teague).
It doesn’t take long before the two philosophically opposed men butt heads over their handling of the family’s longtime adversaries, the bullying McCluskey cattle-ranching clan (headed by an effectively intimidating Forsythe), with Wade proceeding to ignite a powder keg that brings a whole mess of pain to his family.
First-time filmmaker Kane Senes, who co-wrote the blandly etched script with John Criss, takes a painstakingly studied approach to the genre, methodically detailing the specifics of rural everyday life, from skinning rabbits to beating rugs to picking wildflowers.
While all the naturalistic overtones might suggest faith-based Terrence Malick, those committed performances keep the film involving, however recognizably those echoes might resonate.
“Echoes of War”
MPAA rating: R for violence, sexuality, nudity, language.
Running time: 1 hour, 44 minutes.
Playing: AMC Burbank Town Center 8.