“Killers of the Flower Moon,” directed by Martin Scorsese and based on David Grann’s book, boasts an impressive ensemble cast that has garnered substantial praise. However, the film has sparked debate over one particular performance, that of Brendan Fraser as W.S. Hamilton.
Set in 1920s Oklahoma, the movie tells the story of the Osage tribe, who struck it rich with oil discoveries on their land. The narrative revolves around Ernest Burkhart (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), the nephew of William “King” Hale (Robert De Niro), who, despite appearing benevolent, aims to exploit the Osage for their wealth. He manipulates Burkhart into committing murders and marrying Molly Kyle (Lily Gladstone) to access her family’s oil headrights. When the Bureau of Investigation intervenes to investigate the killings, the focus turns to Burkhart and Hale.
Brendan Fraser portrays W.S. Hamilton, Hale’s attorney, but his role is minimal until the third act. His character attempts to manipulate Burkhart into retracting his confession against Hale. Fraser’s performance is marked by an intense and chaotic courtroom scene, which has divided audiences.
Some viewers found Fraser’s performance too over-the-top, even comparing him to the Kool-Aid man. Others criticized his minimal dialogue and screen time. However, many have defended Fraser, considering him “perfect” for the role and pointing out that Scorsese wouldn’t have retained his scenes if they were subpar.
In defense of Fraser’s intense courtroom scene, it was necessary to align with the character’s portrayal in Grann’s book. Hamilton’s loud outburst was designed to distract and buy time for Hale, illustrating the tactics employed by the wealthy to evade justice.
Fraser’s career experienced a resurgence, known as the “Brenaissance,” particularly following his critically acclaimed performance in “The Whale,” where he won an Academy Award for Best Actor. The disappointment surrounding his role in “Killers of the Flower Moon” stems from his limited screen time and dialogue, a letdown after his powerful performance in “The Whale.”
In summary, “Killers of the Flower Moon” features a strong ensemble cast with Brendan Fraser’s performance as W.S. Hamilton dividing viewers. His brief but intense appearance in the courtroom was fitting for the character’s role in the story, yet some found it over-the-top. Fraser’s limited screen time disappointed those who expected more from the actor following his recent successes.