Scott ‘youngest son of Clint’ Eastwood has been gradually carving out a career for himself after beginning with smaller roles in his father’s films and now seems to have graduated to leads. Despite working with him, he used to avoid direct comparisons to his father by using the name ‘Scott Reeves’ and playing more under the radar roles (I didn’t really recognise him in this though I’ve apparently seen seven movies he’s been in previously, make of that what you will). With Diablo, he’s taking on quite the risk though, playing an antiheroic Western lead with the Eastwood name plastered over the poster, he’s all but asking to be measured up against an iconic standard few could hope to achieve.
Based on this evidence, Scott Eastwood lands far more toward the Jaden Smith end of the scale than the Domhnall Gleeson one when it comes to actors inheriting their father’s talents. He certainly bears an obvious physical resemblance to his legendary parent, but unfortunately for him that only serves to further emphasise his lack of screen presence. Maybe he’s just the latest entrant into the modern young, blandly handsome, charisma-free lead actors club populated by the likes of Charlie Hunnam and Jai Courtney?
Someone who edges much closer to Clint-levels of magnetism in a Western is the always great Walton Goggins, who also appears and gets what I believe might be his first name-above-the-title billing with Diablo. I’ll happily admit that the only reason I even watched this movie was learning that Goggins had another Western out so soon after his fantastic work in The Hateful Eight. Unfortunately for everyone, he’s actually hardly in the film at all. He has I think three or four very brief scenes where he shows-up, says some evil things and shoots some people before disappearing again. He deserves better.
The actual plot of Diablo is about as imaginative as its title. It begins with Eastwood’s wife being kidnapped and his house being burnt down by a group of bandits who he then pursues to Mexico. He encounters a few familiar faces along the way including Danny Glover, who’s been wasting his time in a number of rubbish straight-to DVD films of late and doesn’t manage to add much here. This thinnest of story-lines feels stretched even over the film’s meagre running time, which is about 75 minutes without credits. Diablo does have something on its mind besides being a basic revenge Western re-tread though, and not to it’s benefit.
There’s a monumentally stupid plot twist that you’ll probably see coming a mile off but is revealed at about the hour mark. It’s the kind of thing that just irritates rather than surprises, opening up unanswered questions about what we’ve seen already and disappointing coinciding with the information that we won’t be seeing Goggins again. I’m tempted just to spoil it right now as the film would probably be less annoying if you went in already possessing this knowledge, but I’ll resist.
Other than Goggins’ precious few appearances, the only strength of Diablo is the photography, which makes the most of the Canadian scenery it was filmed in, but can’t really elevate the film beyond a few pretty landscape shots. We’ve had a really interesting bunch of new Westerns released over the last few months I’ve thought; Slow West, Bone Tomahawk, The Hateful Eight, The Revenant…Diablo sits firmly at the bottom, not even being in the same league as any of the others.