Nicolas Cage Is A Psychotic Cowboy In Must-See Western On Hulu

By Robert Scucci | Published

Nicolas Cage stars in so many movies that it’s really easy to overlook some of his lesser-known releases, like 2022’s Butcher’s Crossing. In my never-ending quest to watch every single Nicolas Cage movie, I was thrilled to see that Butcher’s Crossing started making its rounds on the streaming front, and immediately fired up Hulu to see what it was all about.

While this movie isn’t one of the more memorable films in Cage’s extensive filmography, it’s a solid modern Western, but not without its limitations.

Nicolas Cage In Butcher’s Crossing

Set in 1874, Butcher’s Crossing first introduces Will Andrews (Fred Hechinger). Will is a young Harvard dropout who is looking for excitement in his life that he’s not getting through his studies.

Deciding that he needs to have some first-hand experience in the real world, he relocates to Butcher’s Crossing, Kansas, with the intention of getting into the buffalo hunting trade.

When Will is denied this rite of passage by an old family acquaintance named McDonald (Paul Raci), he seeks out anybody who is willing to take him along on a hunt so he can explore the wilderness like a true pioneer.

Looking For A Herd Of Buffalo

Will meets Miller (Nicolas Cage) at a saloon, and Miller has reason to believe that there is a massive herd of buffalo waiting to be stripped of their hides somewhere in Colorado territory.

Miller is a rugged outdoorsman who shaves his head with a straight razor and really hates buffalo for reasons that aren’t fully revealed in Butcher’s Crossing.

Miller assembles a team, which includes Will, an impossibly old (and drunk) religious zealot with one arm named Charlie (Xander Berkeley), and a well-practiced but cynical skinner named Fred (Jeremy Bobb).

Setting Out On The Journey

butcher's crossing

The team leaves Butcher’s crossing and sets forth on their journey, which wears down Will’s spirits because he’s inexperienced and not used to working in this capacity.

Though the team has their doubts about Miller’s claims at first, they find thousands of buffalo exactly where Miller said they would be.

Butcher’s Crossing takes a dark turn when Miller goes on a buffalo-killing rampage. Knowing they already have a massive payday on their hands, the team encourages Miller to call it quits and head back to civilization.

Miller instead insists on continuing the hunt until he kills every last buffalo, even if there is no practical way to transport the thousands of hides they already collected.

The Unforgiving Wilderness

butcher's crossing

Blind-sighted by a blizzard, the team finds themselves stuck in the mountains for months as they wait for spring to bloom. Morale hits an all-time low during this time because if the team left when they originally wanted to, they could have already made it back home and seen a massive payday for their efforts.

Instead, they have to brave the unforgiving wilderness and watch a crazed Miller continue hunting instead of trying to figure out a way off the mountains where they set up camp.

Needed A Bit More Tension

butcher's crossing

As much as Butcher’s Crossing has going for it, I felt like it was missing the tension it so desperately needed once it entered its second act. Though the acting was solid and the nature sequences were beautifully shot, I never really felt worried for anybody’s well-being in this film.

That is to say, the internal conflict that was clearly happening within Miller’s team was implied more than it was acted out, which would have made for stronger storytelling.

Streaming Butcher’s Crossing

butcher's crossing


Despite Butcher’s Crossing’s narrative shortcomings, it’s worth a look if you’re in the mood for a modern Western with solid production values.

The wide wilderness shots and the haunting skylines alone are reason enough to feast your eyes on this Gabe Polsky-directed film, but you may find yourself a bit underwhelmed by the themes that this movie attempts to explore.

You can currently stream Butcher’s Crossing on Hulu if you’re willing to go off the deep end with Nicolas Cage and co.