Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch Poster 2

Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch (2023) Review

Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch, the new direct to Tubi western from The Asylum, is a slight change of pace for the studio. While it still has a soundalike, mockbuster title, the films it takes its title from are classics, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Wild Bunch, not recent hits. Since I doubt they’ve run out of recent films to riff on, I’m guessing they wanted a bit of prestige for their 25th Anniversary.

Mike Cassidy (Bruce Dern, The Weapon, The Gateway) comes home to find his wife Alice (Dee Wallace, The Munsters, The Nest) upset. Someone had stopped by claiming Mike owed him money and threatening violence if he didn’t get it. Their boy Butch (Ross Jirgl, A Professor’s Vengeance, Love at the Christmas Contest) has gone to Sweetwater to get the money from the bank. Mike tries to talk some sense into Butch, but it ends with the bank being robbed and Mike being shot dead by Charles Siringo (Jeffrey Combs, Feardotcom, Batman: The Doom That Came to Gotham).

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Five years later Butch is leading The Wild Bunch, a gang that includes Isom Dart (Josh Horton, Deadly Illusions, Army of the Dead), Elzy Lay (Alex Knight, Enter the Dojo, The Condemned 2), Laura Bullion (Ginger T. Rex, Opening Night, The Unfound), Ben Kilpatrick (Jason Coviello, Shadow Walkers, RedWinter) and Kid Curry (Geoff Meed, Resident Evil: Extinction, Asteroid-a-Geddon).

After a train robbery goes wrong and turns into a deadly shootout they come to the attention of The Pinkerton Agency which dispatches a team that includes the notorious killer for hire Tom Horn (Anthony Palermo, American Bred, Rollerball) and led by none other than Charles Siringo.

Director Anthony C. Ferrante (Nix, Zombie Tidal Wave) and Meed, who wrote the script as well as playing Kid Curry, serve up a film that’s a bit closer to history than something like Jesse James Unchained but still takes a lot of liberties with the facts. Some of it, such as the fact Dart never rode with the Wild Bunch, is a minor detail. Others, such as Siringo killing Mike Cassidy will be noticed by anyone into the history of the west.

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The sanitizing of Cassidy himself into a nice guy who just wanted to rob banks and trains without hurting anyone is closer to laughable. Making his motivation helping the widowed Alice and then settling down to become a rancher just made me roll my eyes. But I suppose after Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, even making him a gritty anti-hero would be too much for many viewers.

On the other hand, Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch does get the character, if not the history, of Tom Horn right. He was a sadistic killer who ended up hanging for the murder of a young boy, and fittingly we first see him beating a man to death in a dispute over a chicken.

As a result of this revisionism, Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch becomes the story of a man who just wants to become a rancher and help his adoptive mother. But his plans to go straight end when these psychopaths with badges kill Alice while looking for him, driving him to seek revenge. Which happens just in time to have him join up with The Sundance Kid (Jilon VanOver, Deep Woods, The Field Guide to Evil) and Etta Place (Nikki Leigh, Mummy Dearest, Twisted Vines).

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I could have dealt with some of that if the film had at least delivered some excitement. Instead, Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch is a film that’s long on talk and has a few killings, but up until the shootout at the end, very little action. Which, given the plot and size of the cast, is ridiculous. This should have been full of gunfights rather than fairly dull shootings. They might have been effective if we got to know the characters, but very few of them get any development, so most of their deaths don’t have much effect

There’s already a sequel, Butch Vs. Sundance, in post-production. But after sitting through Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch, I can’t say I have high hopes for it.

Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch is a Tubi Original and is free to watch wherever the service is available. If you want something similar, and hopefully better, FilmTagger can offer some suggestions.

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4 thoughts on “Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch (2023) Review”

  1. I just watched this movie and I am looking forward to seeing the sequel. I have been a western fan for 50+ years. Keep up the food work Tubi.

  2. The acting is mediocre. I love westerns but I wasn’t a huge fan of this. Being that I’m from Wyoming and know there isn’t a sole in this state that says Dubois like it’s some French word tells me they didn’t do much research and it’s actually painful to hear them say. Do-boysss. Quite the difference

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