Sam Elliott plays Lee Hayden, a man who became a western movie star icon 40 years ago and now spends his days reminiscing about the old days. After a cancer diagnosis, Hayden finds himself trying to straighten out his life with a new romance (Laura Prepon), reconnecting with his estranged adult daughter (Krysten Ritter), and trying to find that one last great role. The Hero is directed by Brett Haley, who also wrote the script with Marc Basch.
When you look at the storyline you can’t help but see the similarities in the career of Sam Elliott. He made a name for himself playing Rick in the film The Lifeguard, but it was the years he played cowboys on TV and in film that made him a star. The Sacketts, Shadow Riders, and Tombstone are just a handful of the films he’s made over the last 40 years. Elliott makes Lee Hayden becomes a much bigger character and Elliott’s performance validates both the actor and the role.
In the film, Lee wins a lifetime achievement award and starts to wonder what’s become of his life since he’s winning an award for what he considers was only for the one good movie he ever made. Haley and Basch offers us a soul searching moment in the life of a hero who needs to leave the past and start to look forward. Nick Offerman and Katherine Ross also star, and as good as all the performances are, it’s Sam Elliott’s heartfelt moving performance that makes this a film to see.
Swanner: 3 stars