Alex Cox managed to make an anti-American film (funded by Universal) about Nicaragua (on location) during a volatile and secretly funded U.S. opposition to Nicaragua. Sneaky.
WalkerCriterion Collection, $39.95
For many, Repo Man and Sid & Nancy are the quintessential works of Alex Cox. Walker, now forever synonymous with Texas Ranger (no offense, Chuck), should be in that conversation. But it's not. It's a forgotten film about a forgotten man. Originally conceived as a protest of Reagan's despotic funding of the Contras, Walker used satire to make a point. By juxtaposing two distinct periods of U.S. democratic meddling, Cox indicated that nothing's changed and made one of the more unconventional anti-Hollywood films of recent memory. It features a sinister style residual to Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch, a great score by Joe Strummer, and a mad-hatter performance by Ed Harris.
But it didn't take. The studios hated it, sat on it to minimize distribution. Cox didn't help either, at least according to critics, who saw his use of propagandist anachronisms as nothing more than political diatribe, which incited their disdain more than it titillated their sense of humor. Yet, Cox managed to make an anti-American film (funded by Universal) about Nicaragua (on location) during a volatile and secretly funded U.S. opposition to Nicaragua. That's genius and messing-your-pants hilarious. This is clearly one of the great hoodwinks of the Hollywood system.
So, here's Criterion's new ragbag release with an opportunity to restore some of Walker's luster. An insightful commentary by Cox and penman Rudy Wurlitzer, a great book insert and hidden short film by Cox reviewing critics' responses to the film, and the package design of Austinite Marc English merging antebellum archival with Sandinista agitprop are the highlights. The only downside of the release is its relative skimpiness, which includes an audio monologue, production photos, trailer, and a retrospective documentary. All in all, a long overdue and potentially resurrecting release for Walker.