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Dead for a Dollar

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Canada, United States · 2022
1h 46m
Director Walter Hill
Starring Christoph Waltz, Willem Dafoe, Rachel Brosnahan, Hamish Linklater
Genre Thriller, Western

Famed bounty hunter Max Borlund is hired to find and return Rachel Price, the wife of a successful Santa Fe businessman. Max is told she is being held for ransom in Mexico, but when he finds her, he discovers that she has willingly fled from her abusive husband. On his journey, Max also runs across his sworn enemy, expatriate American Joe Cribbens, an outlaw he put behind bars. Max faces a dilemma: does he finish the dishonest job and return Rachel to her husband, or does he aid Rachel’s bid for freedom and fight off his criminal rival?

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What are critics saying?

65

TheWrap by Ben Croll

Dead for a Dollar is a proud heir to a longstanding lineage of low-budget westerns. Consider that a feature and a bug.

75

RogerEbert.com by Glenn Kenny

This story is bound to lead to several showdowns at once, and the action climax is beautifully orchestrated by Hill: it’s suspenseful, jarring, and never descends to formal cheating of narrative cheapness to give the audience what it wants and deserves.

70

The Hollywood Reporter by Leslie Felperin

Although Hill certainly puts in a few sly tips of the hat to canonical and cult favorites and is clearly enjoying exploiting the audience’s expectations of the genre, Dead for a Dollar isn’t an empty nostalgia exercise. Nor is it a revisionist postmodern deconstruction. It’s somewhere between the two, built on a narrative architecture as classical in its vernacular as Doric columns on a bank, but with details that will surely remind audiences of the future that it was made in the 2020s.

58

The Playlist by Marshall Shaffer

Dead for a Dollar provides a decently intriguing yarn within the framework of the Western that burrows a few inches below the surface. No one can say Hill didn’t hold up his end of the deal, which may be all that matters to him in the end.

50

Variety by Owen Gleiberman

Hill wants to “do justice” to each of these people, but the result is that Dead for a Dollar doesn’t have a dramatic core. It has actors we like to watch, doing what they do well (like Waltz playing a civilized badass), but it isn’t structured so that any of their fates gets a rise out of us.

40

Time Out by Phil de Semlyen

Sluggishly paced, stodgily scripted and curiously edited, it’s not so much a bullet ballet as a creaky dance across an abandoned saloon.

67

IndieWire by Sophie Monks Kaufman

Despite a hectic list of characters and their grievances, the plot is not tightly constructed and scans, for stretches, like a hang-out movie.

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