Monday, October 26, 2015

Joshua (1976)

Bare-bones storytelling can work wonders in the action genre, because it's exciting to see narratives stripped down to the essentials of characterization, circumstance, and motivation. However, excluding even one of those elements creates insurmountable problems. Sometimes, less is less. That's certainly true of the interminable Western Joshua, a revenge saga starring blaxploitation stalwart Fred Williamson. Eschewing characterization altogether, the movie begins with a group of frontier thugs invading a farmer's homestead, murdering the farmer's black maid, and kidnapping the farmer's sexy mail-order bride (Brenda Venus). Shortly afterward, the maid's adult son, Joshua (Williamson), arrives at the homestead because his tenure as a conscripted soldier in the Civil War has ended. Upon learning what happened, Joshua heads into the wilderness to hunt down the outlaws who killed his mother. Excepting distasteful scenes in which the thugs repeatedly rape the mail-order bride and a bland interlude during which Joshua has an adventure with a woman (Isela Vega) who’s just as circumspect as he is, the preceding description reflects everything that happens in Joshua. Padded with endless riding sequences and set to a plodding, shapeless score that comprises a handful of uninspired cues repeated and repurposed ad nauseam, the movie advances with a herky-jerky rhythm, gaining a modicum of energy whenever gunfire erupts and then slipping back into tedium once the violence ends. Williamson is the only name-brand actor in the picture, but his work is as perfunctory as the contributions of the forgettable supporting cast. Even the film's picturesque Utah locations fail to impress, simply because director Larry Spangler's imagery is so unimaginative.

Joshua: LAME

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