The Alamo | Chicago Reader

The Alamo

Americans so love to fantasize about being underdogs that the fall of the Alamo has been filmed more than a dozen times, though John Wayne's legendary 1960 fiasco and a more enlightened political climate have made it a dicier prospect in recent years. This Disney epic, conceived by Ron Howard but handed over to director John Lee Hancock (The Rookie), indulges the flag-wavers, but its chronicle of the politics behind the Texans' 1835 defeat and subsequent victory at San Jacinto is more thoughtful and complex than I anticipated. A shapely and intelligent script notes the cruelty of Mexican general Santa Anna (Emilio Echevarria) but also the American settlers' imperial lust, and its Davy Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton in his best role since Sling Blade) is both embarrassed by his own myth and haunted by the Indian slaughter that nurtured it. With Dennis Quaid, Jason Patric, and Patrick Wilson.

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