Review by Dan Skip Allen
Some documentaries deal with softer topics, and others pack much more of a punch. Bastards' Road falls into the latter category. The main focus is the fact that a man is walking across the country from Maryland to see his friend in California, but as is the case with most films, there is more to the story than that.
The film focuses on an ex-Marine named Jon Hancock of the 2/4 Echo/Fox companies. He enlisted shortly before 9/11, so his deployment was mostly fighting in Iraq. The film also has a lot of talking heads of the men who fought beside Jon in Iraq. On the way to California, he stops to visit some of these men. This film is like a pilgrimage for him. This walk is like a penalty. He is paying the price for the things he said and done in his life in the past.
The film has a lot of stats about soldiers who have committed suicide or of soldiers who have PTSD due to their service for this country. A lot of men and women have lost their lives to this disease. They just couldn't handle the things they did over there. The way they dealt with it was killing themselves or stress, anger, drugs, and alcohol. It wasn't easy on their friends and families.
The filmmakers get to the heart of this man and his friends and family. Mostly they point the finger at the main subject of the film, Jon Hancock. He is a very flawed and damaged individual. The walk is a way for him to save lives and make up for everything he has done. This might be an inspiring film for him and others, but he has to get back to the real world and start forgiving himself for his mistakes and apologizing to those he hurt. He had to give the tough answers. It's not going to be easy on him or others who need them.
The film has beautiful cinematography and songs as the film progresses. The scenery of our country is beautiful. Sometimes we forget how beautiful our country is. The cameras captured that beauty first hand. The songs have an inspiring nature to them when put over certain parts of the film. Also, the film uses different camera techniques that capture Jon, his family, friends, and the servicemen with whom he went to battle in Iraq.
In the end, this film is an answer to the pain and suffering Jon went through as well as inflicted on others. It is like a remedy for everybody who is hurting and has gone through tough times following the war. He showed everybody if he can do this to help lay his penance then they too can fight through their demons. Jon did something which had huge implementations of a lot of people positively. This film was the vehicle for which he delivered his message.
Bastards' Road hits VOD on May 11.