Falling Foul of the Fowl
Ward Allen (Jim Caviezel - Escape Plan) loves to go out on the river by his plantation and shoot duck, a way of life which he enjoys with his friend Christmas Moultie (Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave), a freed slave. But together they frequently find themselves falling foul of the law for shooting too much fowl. But Ward's bombastic yet charming nature sees him win the heart of Lucy Stubbs (Jaimie Alexander - Thor) who despite her father's opposition marries the roguish Ward. Their story and Ward's death is part of legend and a story still told by the elderly Christmas to Jack Cay (Bradley Whitford - Have a Little Faith) who frequently pops in to check on his old friend who still lives in the ramshackle cabin by the water he did when he use to hunt with Ward.
Based on the book "Ward Allen: Savannah River Market Hunter" I get a real sense after watching "Savannah" that those who have read the book might get a lot more out of this movie than those who haven't. I say that because "Savannah" doesn't quite flow as we get to see various episodes in the life of Ward and Christmas, but there doesn't seem to be enough of the bits in-between to turn these in to an engrossing drama which feels like it is taking you on a sun lit, meandering journey into the past and through a man's life.
But in fairness those episodes, whilst some feel repetitive, are entertaining in their own right. From scenes of Ward using his charm, confidence and surprising knowledge to out smart the law when ever he is hauled in front of the judge to those which focus on his friendship with Christmas, they work as mini segments, little insightful chapters of a bigger story. The trouble is that they just don't flow as a storyline and so you get an entertaining scene but it doesn't really connect with the next.
That failure to flow as a storyline is also a shame because Jim Caviezel delivers a hugely entertaining performance as the bombastic Ward Allen and it is a performance which ends up more memorable than the movie. But there are nice tones to his performance which work well when you have scenes featuring Jaimie Alexander, who brings both beauty and fragility to the character of Lucy. As for Chiwetel Ejiofor, well the flashback scenes are great but unfortunately the aging process used on him is not the most effective and ends up distracting as it looks like he has been locked in a paper mache mask.
What this all boils down to is that in parts "Savannah" works but the sum of those parts doesn't make for anything more than just an okay movie. It simply lacks the flow to make what ends up a collection of episodes come together in to one coherent and charming storyline.