Review: ‘Catch the Bullet,’ starring Jay Pickett, Peter Facinelli and Tom Skerritt

January 7, 2022

by Carla Hay

Jay Pickett and Peter Facinelli in “Catch the Bullet” (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

“Catch the Bullet”

Directed by Michael Feifer

Culture Representation: Taking place in Buffalo, Wyoming, in the late 1800s, the Western action film “Catch the Bullet” features a predominantly white cast of characters (with some Native Americans) representing the working-class.

Culture Clash: A U.S. marshal goes on the hunt for criminals who kidnapped his 12-year-old son, killed another boy, and left the marshal’s father seriously wounded during a home invasion.

Culture Audience: “Catch the Bullet” will appeal mainly to people who don’t mind watching horribly made Western movies.

Gattlin Griffith and Mason McNulty in “Catch the Bullet” (Photo courtesy of Lionsgate)

A horrendous dud on every level, “Catch the Bullet” is a completely useless movie, unless anyone needs an example of a Western action flick that does everything wrong. The story seems like it was thought up by a child with no concept of making a good, original story. The dialogue is completely cringeworthy. The technical aspects of the film (cinematography, film editing, sound, production design, etc.) are all amateurish.

“Catch the Bullet” is supposed to take place in Buffalo, Wyoming, sometime in the late 1880s, but there are some glaring mistakes throughout the film that are inauthentic to the time period. For example, the main house in the movie has features (such as modern electrical plugs) that didn’t exist in houses back then. It’s just one of many examples of the sloppy filmmaking in “Catch the Bullet,” which was directed by Michael Feifer and written by Jerry Robbins.

The main reason why anyone might be suckered into watching this time-wasting junk is because somehow the filmmakers got some fairly well-known actors to star in the movie. That name recognition can just barely be considered the only asset the movie has, although it’s not saying much because the acting in “Catch the Bullet” is beyond embarrassing for everyone involved. “Catch the Bullet” also has the dubious distinction of being the last movie of actor Jay Pickett (whose credits included the daytime TV soap operas “Port Charles” and “Days of Our Lives”), who died of a heart attack in July 2021, at the age of 60.

In “Catch the Bullet,” Britt McMasters (played by Pickett) is a U.S. marshal who frequently has to be away from home for weeks or months at a time. Britt is a widower with a 12-year-old son named Chad (played by Mason McNulty), who has a lot of resentment over his father’s frequent absences from home. Britt and Chad live in a ranch house with Britt’s widower father Dex (played by Tom Skerritt), who has a better relationship with Chad than Britt has with Chad.

In an early scene in the movie, Chad is playing “cops and robbers” outside his house with his 10-year-old friend Albert Hanson (played by Ryder Kozisek), who lives nearby. Given the choice between playing the role of famous bank robber Jesse James and his father Marshal McMasters, Chad doesn’t hesitate when he says he does not want the role of his father. Britt is currently away from home because of his job, and Chad hasn’t seen Britt in three months.

While the boys are playing outside, a thug named Jed (played by Gattlin Griffith) rides up to the house with four of his cronies. Jed says he’s looking for Marshall McMasters. When he finds out that the marshal isn’t home, Jed shoots Dex and Albert and then kidnaps Chad. Albert is immediately killed. Dex survives but he’s severely wounded and barely conscious. It turns out that Jed is an escaped prisoner who was convicted of robbing a bank and is out for revenge on Britt, who arrested Jed and helped send him to prison.

Three days later, Britt comes come and is horrified to find out what happened. Dex can describe the basic facts but the crime, but he can’t give a good-enough description of the culprits because his memory is hazy. Two law enforcement officers are on the scene to investigate: Sheriff Wilkins (played by Peter Facinelli) and Deputy Clay Tucker (played by Calder Griffith), who is about 20 years younger and a lot less experienced than Sheriff Wilkins.

Britt immediately wants to look for Chad. Sheriff Wilkins says he can’t go with him because of other pressing commitments, so he assigns Deputy Tucker to go with Britt. Deputy Tucker doesn’t have enough tracking experience, so an experienced tracker named Chaska (played by Cody Jones) is enlisted to help this small search-and-rescue team.

Chaska is biracial: His father was a Native American warrior from the Pawnee tribe; his mother was a white missionary. Chaska’s racial identity isn’t a problem for anyone except for Deputy Tucker, who’s very racist. “I ain’t riding with no Injun,” he says of Chaska.

Deputy Tucker tells anyone who’ll listen that he doesn’t think Chaska can be trusted, just because Chaska isn’t white. Britt tells Deputy Tucker that Chaska is the most qualified of the three of them to do the tracking and that there’s no way that Chaska will be dismissed from this mission. Expect to see a lot of pouting and brattiness from Deputy Tucker, who’s not as competent as he thinks he is.

Jed’s four accomplices in this crime spree are so generic, viewers won’t be able to remember anything to distinguish their personalities. Cass Gibbs (played by Kevin McNiven) is the crony who was Jed’s accomplice in the bank robbery that sent Jed to prison. The other members of this gang are Silas (played by Rick Moffatt), Blade (played by Ardeshir Radpour) and Willie (played by Tucson Vernon Walker), whose fates are easy to predict in this cliché-ridden Western.

Jed and his gang aren’t the only people who might be threats to Britt and his small posse. They have to go through Sioux Indian territory, and it’s very likely that members of this Sioux tribe will attack anyone who’s caught trespassing in Sioux territory. It’s just an excuse to litter the movie with more ineptly filmed battle scenes.

There’s a scene where Britt is able to turn around and shoot an opponent on a quick draw before the opponent could shoot Britt in the back. Deputy Tucker marvels at this move and says to Britt: “Your back was to him. How’d you know he was going to draw?” Britt replies, “A glint in his eyes said he knew better than me.” This is the type of idiotic nonsense in “Catch the Bullet.”

“Catch the Bullet” plods along and does almost every stereotype that you would expect in this type of unimaginative Western. Following an over-used Western formula isn’t the problem. The problem is that the movie is so ineptly filmed and filled with such atrocious dialogue and subpar acting, all of it just lowers the quality of this already low-quality film. By the time the very predictable ending happens, the only thing that might surprise viewers is that they had the patience to watch this dreck until the very end.

Lionsgate released “Catch the Bullet” in select U.S. cinemas, on digital and VOD on September 10, 2021. The movie was released on Blu-ray and DVD on September 14, 2021.

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