The movie becomes so enraptured with Sam Elliot that it seems to forget to build up anything bigger with him. There are goals in place where Lee is given the opportunity to audition for a new role and possibly pursue that movie he was talking about, but these are little more than setups for Elliot to strut and flex his underused acting muscles. At its lowest, the film is a meandering meditation on coming to terms with legacy and death, almost to a depressing degree for the 72-year-old actor.
The Hero’s light dramatic story holds itself together on Sam Elliot’s performance alone, which is surprising as he usually plays the support more than the glue. This is his movie where he can be more personal and complicated, with Offerman and Prepon mostly stepping aside to let him command the screen. The film probably won’t redefine Elliot at such an age and he’ll probably slap on the cowboy hat a few more times before kicking the bucket, but it’s still a pleasingly divergent film in his career that reminds us there’s a human being behind the mustache and voice.