The Alamo

The classic siege of the Alamo comes to the big screen yet again this time with a mega-budget in “The Alamo”. The film stars Dennis Quaid as Sam Houston and Billy Bob Thornton as Congressman Davie Crockett and chronicles the events that would forever etch the name Alamo into American lore.

While many people know of the battle of the Alamo, few know the range of events that lead up to it and the film does a good job of setting the stage for the classic confrontation between Texas settlers and the vast Mexican forces under General Santa Ana (Emilio Echevarri’a), for control of the region.

The film attempts to fill in much of the lore, but has to speculate on many events as very little is confirmed about the battle aside from the fact that the defenders of the Alamo fought and dies valiantly against overwhelming opposition.

What is shown is that the Alamo was a former mission that is was a strategic point defending the settlements in Texas, which at that time was land that was claimed by Mexico. Sam Houston and many Americans headed to the land as it offered plentiful amounts of land and a chance to start anew for many such as William Travis (Patrick Wilson), who avoided debt and a failed marriage to find success and redemption in the new territory.

Infighting amongst the settlers caused Houston and his forces to deal with political events thus leaving the Alamo without at reliable plan of relief should the Mexican army attack. The attack did come and roughly 183 men found themselves facing off against 2000 battle hardened troops of the Mexican army.

The film shows the setup to the battle well, but the first shot is not even fired until 45 minutes into the film. The main battle does not start until almost 85 minutes into the film and by this point you may find yourself losing interest as the setup is painfully drawn out. Once the battle arrives it fails to satisfy as the action comes to late.

The filmmakers are to be commended for showing that Mexican nationals and slaves fought side by side against the Mexican forces for the cause of freedom as this is a fact that is often overlooked by the very history that inspired the film.

Another issue with the film is that the cast was woefully underused as Quaid spends the majority of the film scowling and aside from the Battle of San Jacinto is given little to do save drink and grumble to anyone who will listen. Thornton attempt to add some life to the film but aside from some colorful moments Crockett is largely relegated to playing the part of folk hero to the troops. Another issue is the woefully underused Jason Patrick as James Bowie who aside from flashing his namesake knife spends the majority of the film bed ridden dying from consumption and offers little to the story.

The film is not a total loss but due to its plodding pace, is better suited for a rental.