Dennis Quaid as Gen. Sam Houston
Billy Bob Thornton as Davy Crockett
Jason Patric as James Bowie
Patrick Wilson as Col. William Barrett Travis
Emilio Echevarría as Gen. Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana
Jordi Mollà as Juan Seguin
Laura Clifton as Susanna Dickinson
Leon Rippy as Sgt. William Ward
Kevin Page as Micajah Autry
Marc Blucas as James Bonham
W. Earl Brown as David Burnet
Dameon Clarke as Mr. Jones
Craig Erickson as Tom Waters
Stewart Finlay-McLennan as Dr. James Grant
Safia Gray as Ursula Alsbury
Kit Gwin as Mrs. Ayers
Tommy G. Kendrick as T. J. Rusk
Nick Kokich as Daniel Cloud
Estephania LeBaron as Juana Alsbury
Robert Prentiss as Albert Grimes
Nathan Price as Charlie Travis
Todd Reimers as Col. James Fannin
John Wayne defended the Alamo in 1960 and set a benchmark for historical dramas and factual misrepresentation. No, Billy Bob Thorton reprises Wayne’s roll as Davy Crockett in what is probably the most factual retelling of the battle brought to the big screen.
For those that know little of Texas history, the Alamo was built as a Spanish mission and later converted into a military outpost. During the battle for Texas Independance in 1836, a group of about 200 men fought General Santa Anna’s vastly superior Mexican force at the Alamo.
Unlike prior tellings of the story, this version does not shy away from depicting the human weaknesses of the Alamo’s defenders. Col. Travis (Patrick Wilson) still becomes an inspiring leader, but his other flaws come out. Jim Bowie (Jason Patric) spends the battle where all historical accounts said he did. Crockett is a larger than life showman but still human. He shows courage, great skill and determination while worrying that the tall tales of his deeds demand that he act larger than life. Sam Houston (Dennis Quaid) is gruff and passionate but still comes across as a crafty leader.
The one character that felt overdone was Santa Anna (Emilio Echevarria). His lack of compassion and the portrayed evil deeds made him more of a villain than necessary. The historically-based summary executions, willful disregard for human life, and hiding his identity should have been enough to portray the quality of his character without some of the other extra scenes in the movie. On the other hand Jordi Molla, as Juan Seguin, gives one of the best performances of the film highlighting the multi-cultural makeup of the force that was there.
Terrific cinematography compliments the strong acting. The Alamo is a sprawling but small complex of buildings with a vast army surrounding it. The camera angles and large panoramic shots are able to convey the feeling that the men inside are trapped. The musical score and costuming are all period (or at least look and sound it) and immerse the viewer into the film.
The main point of contention that people will have with the movie is that it does not end soon enough. The battle of the Alamo is a tragic and heroic tale that can stand by itself, but the movie continues on all the way to the Battle of San Jacinto for no good reason. It might make the fight at the Alamo seem more pertinent but the people that fought and died there did not know the outcome of the rest of the war. Those results do not make their decision to stay and fight any less significant.
Who should see this movie? It is a grand battle movie and history buffs and action fans should enjoy the depiction of battle here. Most of the major characters are given the time to tell their stories and it makes them more human and accessible. Most of the comedy is supplied by Crockett, who supplied plenty of it in real life, but it is just a few minor scenes. Bowie’s romance helps to develop his character but is not enough if you are looking for a love story. Overall this is a very fair and accurate retelling of the Alamo. With it’s large panoramic battle screens it deserves to be
seen ion the big screen.