Kevin Costner’s resurgence (not that he ever truly went away) began when he took on the role of John Dutton in the massively popular series Yellowstone in 2018. Since that time, Costner has also taken on a couple of feature films with one finding its legs, sitting at #4 worldwide, on the HBO Max streaming service.
Don’t be surprised if you get a sense of déjà vu when you first see Kevin Costner in Let Him Go. Horses, wilderness, and Diane Lane are all part of Costner’s world in the film, giving the film an immediate sense of familiarity as it introduces audiences to the story.
The film is set in the early ‘60s. Kevin Costner is retired sheriff George Blackledge, who lives with his wife Margaret (Lane) on their farm with their son James, his wife Lorna, and their newly born son Jimmy. One morning, James is out riding his horse while Margaret and Lorna are readying a bath for Jimmy.
As the two are bathing Jimmy, James’ horse returns without James on it. George immediately goes in search of his son, finding him next to a creek, dead. James got thrown from his horse and died from a broken neck.
The movie jumps three years and finds Lorna marrying Donnie Weboy. Although George and Margaret are happy for her, they are leery. Margaret’s suspicions are dead on as when she is out shopping, she sees Donnie physically abusing both Lorna and Jimmy on the street.
Margaret then decides to visit the three at their new home, but she arrives to an empty home. Donnie has taken Lorna and Jimmy, leaving without letting them say goodbye.
Now Margaret is worried for Jimmy’s safety, and it takes some convincing to get George to take action. Her threatening to go after them on her own is what finally gets George to move.
The two set out to track down where Jimmy would take them. They finally find Donnie’s uncle Bill (Jeffrey Donovan) and although their initial meeting is quite cold, Bill finally invites them to the Weboy homestead to which Margaret gladly accepts. At dinner, George and Margaret discover just how bad things are when they meet the rest of the family, including Donnie’s unbalanced mother Blanche (Lesley Manville).
George and Margaret meet up with Lorna at her work the following day and finally convince her to go back with them to Montana. They plan for her to sneak out with Jimmy that night, but as expected, the plans don’t go well. Instead of Lorna and Jimmy showing up, George and Margaret are greeted by the Weboys.
Let Him Go is a nice, taut thriller that is successful not only because of the story but also because of the re-pairing of Kevin Costner and Diane Lane. The two previously starred in Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice together.
The film was written and directed by Thomas Bezucha, based on the Larry Watson novel of the same name. While the film was a critical success, its release was marred (as many have been) by the COVID pandemic. In its shortened run, the film brought in a respectable $11.6 million at the box office.
Since the middle of the decade, Kevin Costner hasn’t been too active on the feature film circuit. He’s been seen in McFarland, USA, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Criminal, Hidden Figures, Molly’s Game, and The Highwaymen. Of course, his claim to fame lately is Yellowstone.
Before all that, Kevin Costner got his start in films such as Malibu Hot Summer, Chasing Dreams, Stacy’s Knights, and The Big Chill, where his scenes were famously cut though his dead body is still seen.
Kevin Costner was a good friend of The Big Chill’s director, Lawrence Kasdan, and because of Costner being edited out of the film, Kasdan promised him a role in one of Kasdan’s future projects. The role became Jake in Kasdan’s western, the highly watchable Silverado, and was Costner’s breakout role. It was also the beginning of a love affair Costner would have with westerns.
Along with westerns, Kevin Costner has made a career with sports films. His first came with the classic Bull Durham, which he immediately followed up with another classic, Field of Dreams. Costner would spend time on the links with Tin Cup, go back to the diamond in For Love of the Game, and even find his way to the football field by way of the front office in Draft Day.
Of course, Kevin Costner has appeared in many more notable films, some making news for the wrong reasons. Waterworld fits that category, as does The Postman, two films that didn’t fare particularly well with critics or the box office.
All in all, though, Kevin Costner has been strong at the box office. He was in The Untouchables, No Way Out, JFK, Dances with Wolves, and The Bodyguard, all films that made a lasting impact.
While you’re patiently waiting (aren’t we all?) for Season 4 of Yellowstone to premiere, worldwide audiences can hop on over to HBO Max and give Let Him Go a try. It’ll look familiar, but there’s nothing wrong with that, is there?