The recent wave of exciting, inspired westerns like “Bone Tomahawk” and “The Hateful Eight” is the best and worst thing to happen to “Diablo,” a relatively ordinary oater that may pick up some business from genre fans who’ve had their appetites whetted.
The film stars Scott Eastwood, doing a shaky impression of his father, Clint — right down to the raspy voice and permanent squint. He plays Jackson, a Civil War veteran who rides out into the wilderness to find his woman, Alexsandra (Camilla Belle), after a band of marauders takes her away.
On the trail, Jackson encounters hostile natives and old acquaintances, none of whom seem thrilled to see him. Veteran actors such as Danny Glover and Walton Goggins bring much-needed flavor to “Diablo.”
For roughly the first 45 minutes, writer-director Lawrence Roeck and his co-writer Carlos De Los Rios keep the movie light and lean, getting enough out of the beautiful scenery and occasional gunfights to compensate for Eastwood’s blandness (and his distractingly well-styled hair).
Then Roeck throws in a lurching plot twist that necessitates some clunky explanatory dialogue — along with an onset of portentousness that a film this slight hasn’t really earned.
MPAA rating: R, for violence and brief language.
Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood