Road to Paloma contains a junkyard fistfight in which one of the pugilists gets bludgeoned in the face with a rusty gasoline can (yes, we hear the bridge of his nose snap); a sex scene with the ravishing Lisa Bonet (who eerily doesn’t seem to have aged since her tenure on The Cosby Show); and the longest, most balletic ashes-spreading sequence in film history. There’s an aerobic lap dance, a gruesome rape, more beatings.
Yet for all that, this film is numbingly dull, an outlaw-on-the-run saga as laconic and slow-moving as its fierce, hirsute protagonist (Game of Thrones‘ Jason Momoa, who also debuts as director). Wolf (Momoa), a Mojave loner, is hiding out somewhere in the Southwest after avenging his mother’s murder.
Told by a mechanic buddy that two bigoted detectives are on his trail, he takes off on his motorbike, picking up a drunken, over-the-hill, equally hairy metal singer (Robert Homer Mollohan). Very little happens. Wolf broods, shacks up with Bonet, visits some family, thwarts a rape, broods some more, all while his buddy drinks himself stupid.
The actors either holler themselves hoarse or mumble inaudibly. The piercingly loud soundtrack — mostly Cajun bluegrass ballads and inane hard rock — enhances the humorless aura.
The sole surprise is that the exceptional cinematography is handled by a newcomer, Brian Mendoza. He’s a whiz at lighting scenes solely with crackly campfires, and no one will tire of the moonlit prairies and snowcapped mountains he’s selected as backdrops. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of Road to Paloma as a whole.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 9, 2014