alex cox is one of those film-makers with a committed following among people who have managed to discover his work against the odds: his movies don’t get shown in too many multiplexes, and you’re not likely to find a trailer for them on websites linked to ‘people’ magazine. most of us know him for the weirded-out sci-fi/property developer film ‘repo man’, but i just spent part of a cold and sunny saturday afternoon in the company of ‘walker’, his 1987 piece about the involvement of an early form of neo-con ‘take over the world’ impetus in mid-19th century nicaragua.
in this movie, massive-scale violence is the inevitable corollary of imperialism, and (bad) religion and (selfish) politics combine to produce a sorry mess; one whose legacy still unfolds today. william walker, as played by the mighty ed harris, is what james mcavoy’s character in ‘wanted’ would become if he ever hired a spin doctor. and the difference between ‘walker’ and ‘wanted’ is that alex cox understands that it’s possible to make an entertaining film about violent people without falling in love with them.