A Mexican-American War veteran (Robert Redford) drops out of society and heads for the Rocky Mountains where he takes tutelage from a proven fur trapper (Will Geer) and soon finds himself living happily off the land with an Indian wife and adoptive son. When the U.S. Cavalry officer persuades him to lead an expedition over sacred burial ground, the Crow people retaliate by slaying his newfound family, leading to a one man showdown between the tribal nation and the fabled frontiersman. Drawn from the true to life story of John Johnson by Raymond W. Thorp in his novella Crow Killer, Sydney Pollack's meditative mountain man saga lacks a sense of urgency although there is something appealing about a contemplative modern western. This somber mood of the film also makes the sudden, unexpected, and well edited bursts of violence all the more effective. Impeccable Utah locations and flavorful supporting characters are a major asset, and with regards to Redford's performance, it is remarkable that throughout his career he was continually able to make these one dimensional, quietly masculine good guy personas so compelling.
*** out of ****