Classic Review – Frailty (2001)

Frailty bill paxton

Bill Paxton, credited simply as “Dad”


Directed by Bill Paxton

Starring Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Powers Boothe

Review by Jordan

Enthusiastically praised upon release by such notaries as James Cameron (Aliens), Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead, A Simple Plan) and Stephen King, Bill Paxton’s directorial debut Frailty, about a grown son (McConaughey) recounting the the events that lead to his father (Paxton) becoming the still unidentified “God’s Hand killer” to faithless FBI Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe), is a dark, unflinching and supremely crafted thriller about the weakness of man and our inherent, and horrific violent nature.

Told mostly in flashbacks, in a style immediately reminiscent of The Usual Suspects (1995), we are introduced to the imminently likable Meiks family, consisting of a caring father and his two sons, 12 year old Fenton (Matt O’Leary) and 9 year old Adam (Jeremy Sumpter), whose lives are rocked when God visits the father in a vision, informing him of the upcoming Apocalypse and that is the duty of him and his family to help rid the world of Demons masquerading as ordinary humans. Soon after this vision, “Dad Meiks” is provided with the 3 chosen weapons to assist in his calling, and when at work at the local mechanics an Angel appears unto him with a list containing the first of the “Demons” to be dispatched… it’s not murdering, he explains to his sons, it’s only murder if you kill a human being.

While McConaughey, Boothe, O’Leary and Sumpter all provide exquisite performances, this is truly Paxton’s show. His direction allows the story to live and breathe on its own accord, without ever casting judgment or resorting to tricks to conjure thrills, and his acting is in a class of its own; inhabiting a father with a deep love for his sons both before and after his mission begins. Simple scenes in which he puts them to bed, drives them to school and sits down for dinner with them emit a realistic and warm feel, which of course makes the latter proceeding that much more troubling and heart-wrenching to endure.

Commonly (and possibly mistakenly) placed in the horror genre, Frailty doesn’t provide any scares that will cause you to jolt in your seat or scream out loud, the fear is far more memorable than that. The terrifying reality about serial killers is that a lot believe the monstrous acts they perform are warranted, justified, that they kill for a reason beyond the realm of the common person’s understanding. Is this a film that supports this notion? Or one in which supernatural forces really are at play? You decide for yourself…

4.5 beams of light out of 5

34 responses to “Classic Review – Frailty (2001)

  1. Greta review! This is such a fantastic film. It left me feeling disturbed and sad, like you said, largely because of Paxton’s portrayal. Overall, I found it resonated more strongly than any simple scares or gore could.

  2. Truly a classic of a film. I’d completely forgotten that Paxton had directed it as well. I’ve been meaning to re-watch this. Now I shall. Thanks for reminding me.

  3. Pingback: Classic Review Frailty (2001) - movieBlogs·

  4. It sounds really interesting! I’ll definitely give it a go, you’ve never disappointed me! 😉 The cast seems really promising, so it’s hard to go wrong.

  5. LOVE this movie. It seems to have flown under many people’s radars and that is really a shame. I haven’t watched it in a while. I’ll have to pull out my DVD to revisit it.

    You are right though. It’s definitely not a horror movie. You could probably classify it as a thriller if you feel the need to classify it but “thriller” seems to be the dumping ground for every movie that isn’t quite a horror movie or isn’t quite an action movie or isn’t quite ________ (fill in the blank).

  6. Pingback: Top 10 Films – Matthew McConaughey | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

  7. A sinfully underrated film. Paxton is so incredibly mad (or is he?) and believable! He is so good at these ‘normal’ type people who are thrown into extraordinary situations (“A Simple Plan” springs immediately into mind). You kinda forget the McConaughey character has walked into the police station at the beginning to tell the story, simply due to Paxton’s overwhelming performance. And all these ‘Demons’ that he kills, all pretty much deserve it……..well, no one deserves it (or do they?)!
    Great film……great review……..thanks guys!

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