Sam Elliott Is Brilliant In THE HERO

Original Release Date: June 9 in select theaters Wide on June 30, 2017
Running Time: 1 hour and 36 minutes
Genre: Drama
Rated R for drug use, language and some sexual content
Directed By: Brett Haley
Written By: Brett Haley & Marc Basch
Grade: C+

THE HERO stars the legendary Sam Elliott as an aging actor confronting mortality in the moving new film from writer/director Brett Haley (I’ll See You In My Dreams). Lee Hayden (Elliott) is a Western icon with a golden voice, but his best performances are decades behind him. He spends his days reliving old glories and smoking too much weed with his former-co-star-turned-dealer, Jeremy (Nick Offerman), until a surprise cancer diagnosis brings his priorities into sharp focus. He soon strikes up an exciting, contentious relationship with stand-up comic Charlotte (Laura Prepon), and he attempts to reconnect with his estranged daughter, Lucy (Krysten Ritter), all while searching for the final role to cement his legacy. THE HERO is a beautiful and poignant celebration of life and the legacies we all leave behind.

We all need a hero

Actor Sam Elliot gives a poignant performance as Lee Hayden in Brett Haley’s THE HERO.  Haley and Elliot teamed up in the past on Haley’s I’ll See You in My Dreams.

The film is a showcase for Elliot as a first-rate character actor.  Many moviegoers are familiar with his laconic charm and twinkling eyes, but it is his distinctive baritone voice that almost everyone has heard on screen or in a radio commercial.   THE HERO spotlights Elliot’s acting abilities. It is the perfect film for him to shine.

Elliot’s performance carries the film.   He is supported by a fantastic cast featuring Laura Prepon (Girl on the Train and Orange Is New Black) and Nick Offerman (The Founder and Fargo). Prepon and Elliot have terrific on-screen chemistry.  I thought her performance was excellent and perfectly balanced Elliot’s character Lee Hayden.

The director does a great job engaging the audience by using Elliot’s voice as the opening.   Before you see, you hear that deep and drawling voice say “Lone Star Barbeque Sauce. The perfect partner for your chicken.”  The character driven film highlights aging and romance from a man’s perspective. I thought the story was a bit predictable, but I enjoyed the screenplay.

The dream sequences that Haley weaves throughout the latter part of the film provide a link to the Hayden’s subconscious.  He uses dramatic imagery to create parallels to Hayden’s thoughts.   Most of the dreams are updated sequences from a film Hayden starred in 40 years prior.  He has to come to terms with being a 71-year old man who is facing mortality, falling in love and trying to repair an estranged relationship with his daughter.

The character study about an aging Western movie star facing his past and future is a career defining performance for Sam Elliot.  THE HERO opens Friday, June 30 at Regal Avenues and July 7 at AMC Regency.  ~ Leigh Ann Rassler


Sam Elliot as Lee Hayden
Nick Offerman as Jeremy Frost
Laura Prepon as Charlotte Dylan
Krysten Ritter as Lucy Hayden
Katherine Ross as Valarie Hayden
Max Gail as Gary Babcock

About Leigh Ann Rassler