The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot


I’m sure the pitch Robert D. Krzykowski, the writer-director of The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot, made for his debut feature hinged a lot on the title. As this title goes, you kinda know what to expect going in. The second half of the pitch, where Krzykowski turned the tables and made both those elements basically the sub-plot, must have been the harder sell. But this film is very much about the titular ‘Man’ and because of it, The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then Bigfoot is an unexpected and utter joy.

Calvin Barr (Sam Elliott) is an old man who is haunted by his past. He can still handle himself, as some unfortunate muggers find out as Barr makes his way to his car one night after a few drinks, but Barr’s past never let’s go. His decision to go to war cost him the love of his life, despite him achieving the impossible. Around him, his home is haunted by the box that contains those memories. Yet despite his age, his work is not done. Having done the impossible once, his nation comes calling once more to save Canada (and the rest of the world too, but Canada is the important bit) from the plague carried by The Bigfoot. As the title implies, Barr does what he does.

Typing out that synopsis of the film, you undoubtedly have ‘GENRE FILM!’ flashing at you in all the possible colours of neon. And yet, the film pushes Hitler and Bigfoot to the background. What we have is a tale of a man who offered the best years of his life to his country and has found himself alone in middle America with his dog and a difficult relationship with his brother. The film quickly shows the mission a young Calvin (played by Poldark himself, Aidan Turner) undertook to try to end the war. We see this play out in mostly reverse, with the scenes of Calvin in full SS-fig and Bond-esque weaponry gaining access to the Führer to do the deed. But this is tempered by the shy man wooing the school teacher back home (Masters of Sex’s Caitlin FitzGerald). So far so by the numbers. By each time we return to Calvin Barr in old age, these scenes mean that little bit more.

When the Government comes calling again (in the form of Ron Livingston), they offer another mission to Barr. The Bigfoot is carrying a variant of Avian-flu, which Barr just so happens to be immune too, but will kill most of the world if it escapes Canada. The Americans will nuke Canada to stop it if Barr cannot do the job for them. Barr then explains what really happened in killing Hitler. Barr shot Hitler dead and the Nazis just replaced him. Von Stauffenberg killed Hitler in 1944 and they replaced him again. It is not the man, but the plague he spread that caused the destruction. Killing someone, or something means nothing if what that person carried is in the wild. Barr is trying to tell them that killing The Bigfoot will not stop this disease, only delay it. As G-Men do, they don’t care and in Barr goes.

Sam Elliott as Calvin Barr

Sam Elliott as Calvin Barr

The whole film hinges on this speech, given with quiet, increasing rage by Elliott. I’ve read a few reviews since watching the film and most negative ones complain about it not going full Inglorious Basterds, or just not being genre enough. It seems the premise the critics created for themselves blurred the film itself. The two killings are the bookends to the film, not the substance. Granted, we do get one of the best weapon selection scenes in film since Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction, but Sam Elliott’s performance in this film is based around that speech and his conflict over the cost he paid for doing something monumentally extraordinary, but that was ultimately meaningless.

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot is certainly not going to be everyone’s mug of bourbon. Those who will want a balls to the wall history bending action-adventure will be disappointed, but what they will get a surprisingly heartfelt film that asks a few big, pertinent questions. I found the film to be a pure joy, with a fantastic soundtrack to boot. Robert Krzykowski has a new fan in me and Sam Elliott is, well, Sam Elliott. May that long continue.

The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot is available now in the UK on Netflix.

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