Revenge drama “Let Him Go,” based on the 2013 novel by Larry Watson, benefits from tight storytelling that keeps the film from feeling like a typical sprawling, book-to-screen adaptation.
Set in Montana and North Dakota in the early 1960s, the film follows retired sheriff George Blackledge (Kevin Costner) and his wife Margaret (Diane Lane) who, after the tragic loss of their adult son in a horseback riding accident, leave their ranch to rescue their young grandson from the clutches of a dangerous family known as the Weeboys. What the couple finds is a highly tribal and dangerous family, led by savage matriarch Blanche (Lesley Manville), who have no intention of letting the child go. George and Margaret realize they must fight by any means necessary to free their grandson (and their former daughter-in-law) from a life of abuse and misery.
The plot has a strong Western element in its tale of violent revenge, but also in the themes of fighting for what’s right and standing by your family. The complex characters do all the wrong things for all the right reasons, and the result is a sometimes brutal and highly intense emotional drama. Lane and Costner both give quiet, understated performances, and both are perfect for this material.
The film portrays its two strong female characters as polar opposites in disposition, but both are willing to risk their lives for what they feel is right. When their protective instincts kick in, it’s best for the men folk to get out of the way.
“Let Him Go” is a compelling story full of drama and suspense that presents no easy answers to the notion that vengeance is justified when it comes to family. Everyone eventually loses something important to them, no matter how righteous their intentions.