The lead performances could hardly be better: Gosling, having stolen and propped up entire movies last year ("Murder by Numbers" and "The Believer"), crackles with the economical intensity of a young Tim Roth. Morse, who has racked up decades worth of idiosyncratic character parts, is monumental in this career-peak turn.
Though some of Slaughter Rule's conclusions are overly tidy, the film's powerful meditation on masculinity gets much of its credibility and punch from the two leads, especially Morse, a reliable character actor who sinks his teeth into a role with heavy physical and psychological demands.
Has the virtue of sincerity but not that of restraint. Unlike Terrence Malick, whose shadow looms over the film's visual style, the Smiths over-explain, not grasping that all those barren fields and blood-red clouds are doing plenty of work for them.