Movie review: 'Let Him Go' navigates a sharp turn in noir-y Western thriller

Brad Keefe
"Let Him Go"

There’s a minor moment in “Let Him Go” when a vehicle is about to make a sudden turn on a rural road and a character notes the driver should use a turn signal so the vehicle following them can be prepared.

It’s a pretty good metaphor for a film that slow-burns as a relatively quiet adult drama before a third act grabs the wheel and steers things into noir-y thriller territory.

Those abrupt shifts in tone can be difficult for a movie to navigate, but a stellar cast of veterans makes the whole thing an overall win.

George Blackledge (Kevin Costner) is a retired rural sheriff who lives on a Montana ranch with his wife, Margaret (Diane Lane). Tragedy hits before the opening credits when the couple’s son is killed in an accident, leaving behind his widow, Lorna (Kayli Carter), and a young son.

When Lorna remarries a few years later, the Blackledges become concerned about her and their grandson when they join an off-the-grid family in the remote Dakotas. If the title of the movie didn’t give it away, they attempt to get their grandson back.

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Director Thomas Bezucha, working from a novel by Larry Watson, starts off with a slow, gauzy neo-Western before taking that sharp turn in the third act to a violent revenge thriller. And that turn could leave some audiences with whiplash.

I tend to like these shifts when they’re well-executed, and this one mostly is, even if nothing that preceded can prepare you for where things go.

Still, this could have been a misfire were it not for uniformly great acting performances. Costner and Lane are well-cast, handling both the tender moments of longtime couplehood and the intensity that follows.

The film also has an indelible villain in Lesley Manville as the matriarch of the rural Weboy clan. Ominous scenes around the Weboy dinner table would feel at home in a David Lynch film, where exploring the dark underbelly of small-town life is not uncommon.

Overall, “Let Him Go” is worth the ride. Just enjoy the gauzy Big Sky views and be prepared for drivers that don’t use turn signals.

“Let Him Go”

Now playing in theaters and drive-ins
3 stars out of 5