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Film Review: The Newest Willie Boy Story, “The Last Manhunt,” Is Anything but Incredible

Written by: Adam Vaughn | November 17th, 2022

Film poster: “The Last Manhunt”

The Last Manhunt (Christian Camargo, 2022) 2½ out of 4 stars.

The newest to join the Western genre community is Christian Camargo’s The Last Manhunt, which evokes the story of Willie Boy (Martin Sensmeier, 9 Bullets), the famous Chemehuevi tribe member who fled to the deep West with his lover, Carlotta (Mainei Kinimaka, Kapō). After Willie Boy accidentally shoots Carlotta’s father, the two lovers disappear into the great frontier. But when the town sheriff (director Christian Camargo, Witch Hunt) rallies together a group of men to hunt them down, it’s a race against time as the manhunt begins.

The narrative starts off well, with rich visuals of not only early-1900s production design, but also specific costuming, locations, and character developments for the various Chemehuevi characters. The dilemma Carlotta’s father and mother (Lily Gladstone, The Unknown Country) face as parents is quite a powerful theme off the bat, and the stakes leading up to Willie’s accidental murdering of Carlotta’s father set the tone for the rest of the narrative. Overall, The Last Manhunt opens with a strong setup and makes the viewer excited for what’s to come.

l-r: Martin Sensmeier and Mainei Kinimaka in THE LAST MANHUNT ©Saban Films/Paramount

What carries the film primarily is the interaction between the white bounty hunters and the conflict they face with the two Native American hunters, Hyde (Raoul Max Trujillo) and Segundo (Brandon Oakes, Rosie). Through these interactions, Camargo continuously revisits the theme of racial tension, which is a pertinent and compelling message to send as the hunt for a Chemehuevi fugitive ensues. Sadly, The Last Manhunt starts to lose momentum later, trying to balance too many character stories in a short period of time, and deviating from the main plot to uncover various other plot points.

Ironically, the top-billed cast member, Jason Momoa (Aquaman), is rarely seen in the film, and it becomes quite clear Momoa played more of a production role for this feature (he is credited as “story by”). Topped with the fact that many of the major moments in The Last Manhunt arise from pure coincidence, a shaky plot unfortunately leaves Camargo’s film flimsy in its impact. While the story of Willie Boy is given a modernized cinematic appeal (the story’s last rendition was the 1969 Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here), there simply isn’t enough exciting storytelling to keep The Last Manhunt on its feet long enough to truly affect the viewer.

Jason Momoa in THE LAST MANHUNT ©Saban Films/Paramount

Adam Vaughn is a graduate of the Film & Moving Image program at Stevenson University, with a focus in Cinematography and Production. He also has a minor in Theater and Media Performance. Adam works as a freelance photographer and videographer, focusing his craft on creating compelling photographic and cinematic imagery. Adam is excited to join the Film Festival Today team and explore the world of cinema and visual arts.

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