The Silent Stranger (Johnsonverse)
The Silent Stranger is a 2019 American epic western film written, produced, and directed by Timothy Hill. It stars Ray Park, Dakota Fanning, Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, James Marsden, Diego Luna, Gael García Bernal, Ignacio López Tarso, Johnny Knoxville, and Erik Estrada. The film follows an unnamed, silent drifter who happens to come across the town of Los Grandeza, which is overrun by two gangs: one called the Gamberros, and another called the Escuadrón de la Paz (Peace Squad).
Inspired by the spaghetti westerns of the 1960s, of which Hill is a fan of, the film was released by Johnson Studios on June 22, 2019. It grossed $475 million against a $250 million budget, making it one of Hill's biggest commercial successes. Critics praised it for having a unique protagonist, as well as a darker take on the Wild West, and its music score by Ennio Morricone.
In 1888, a silent and nameless drifter (Ray Park) is riding on his donkey. He happens to come across the town of Las Grandeza, where he witnesses an innocent man being killed in cold blood by an outlaw named Alan Rodríguez (Gael García Bernal). The drifter rides his donkey into the town, and meets Alan, who immediately likes the drifter's muteness, citing that it would be a "valuable asset". Alan offers the drifter work at the Escuadrón de la Paz, one of two gangs running the town. The drifter nods his head, affirming that he accepts, and Alan introduces the drifter to "Wildcard" Willis Boyle (Bill Murray), who boasts that he's never lost a game before, and another outlaw, Xosé Peña (Diego Luna). Xosé asks the drifter to kill a man who owes him money. The drifter immediately complies, and comes back.
An impressed Xosé tells the drifter that they should team up to rob a general store owned by the pompous Edward Lieber (Johnny Knoxville). The robbery is a success, and the drifter and Xosé took $100 each. Xosé tells the drifter to pick up two members of the Escuadrón de la Paz, Raul Gomez (Danny Trejo) and Ned Alejandro (Cheech Marin). Xosé then introduces the drifter to Peace Squad leader Arturo Hernandez (Ignacio López Tarso), who sees potential in the drifter. Hernandez has the drifter kill a former Escuadrón de la Paz member for betraying them to join the Gamberros, another gang that runs the town, scare two jurors into ruling for the Escuadrón de la Paz by dragging them onto the streets from horses, and pick up Hernandez' wife Janie (Dakota Fanning) from her house. However, the drifter's sympathies for Janie, whose relationship with Arturo is abusive, leads him to collect Raul's bounty and run off with Janie, and Raul, after being saved from hanging by Ned shooting his rifle, notifies Hernandez about this.
A furious Hernandez puts a hit on the drifter, who, along with Janie (who divorces Hernandez), joins the Gamberros, led by Antonio Estevez (Diego Luna), who has the drifter kill Arturo in a standoff to prove his loyalty. After Hernandez dies, his gang is now led by his son Alberto (Demián Bichir). Impressed, Antonio introduces the drifter to Las Grandeza Mayor Kent Brown (James Marsden), an old friend of his who has ties to the gang. Brown orders the drifter to interrupt the wedding of Alberto and his girlfriend Silvia (Blake Lively) with a standoff. Alberto is killed along with all his top gang members, losing most of the gang's influence and allowing the Gamberros to take over the town. Brown then abandons Antonio, stating that he pretended to be his friend to bolster his political influence. The drifter decides to kill Brown as a result, impressing Antonio. When the drifter goes to the general store, Edward reveals that the store is a front for the Gamberros' criminal activities, such as gambling. Boyle comes in and offers to play cards with him. The drifter agrees, and the game is three-card Monte. The drifter picks the ace and Boyle, who never could take losing even once, challenges the drifter to a duel before he gets killed; it's revealed that Boyle would've cheated and killed the drifter first, as he had done with the other people he challenged to a duel with.
The next day, the cavalry comes to Las Grandeza, and Antonio and the Gamberros are exposed and busted. The drifter collects the Gamberros' combined $85,000 bounty (including Antonio's $25,000 bounty) from the sheriff (Timothy Hill), revealing that he betrayed the Gamberros for even more money, and Antonio curses the drifter out as he's being taken to the gallows. The drifter rides out of the town with Janie, who's talking a lot as the credits roll. A gunshot is heard when the screen pans up to the sun.
- The Drifter (Ray Park) is a mute who happens to come across the town of Las Grandeza. He shows no loyalty to any gang and will only work as long as there's money to be paid; when he feels that he needs even more money, he betrays that gang.
- Alan Rodríguez
Production began in 2015. Hill described the plot as "Grand Theft Auto III as a Western movie".
The film was shot mainly at the Texas Hollywood theme park in the province of Almería, Spain.
The soundtrack was composed by Ennio Morricone, who composed music for other westerns like Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy (1964-1966),