The Thicket is the adaptation of a crime thriller by the same name from Joe Lansdale, and while it is infinitely badass that Peter Dinklage has, per The Hollywood Reporter, signed on to star as a bounty hunter in the film, it’s just a bit too expected that he’ll be portraying a character named Shorty. Stay close to the source material, of course. But is it possible to take a noted and respected and at times terrifying actor (in the greats of ways) and not condescend to his height. Shorty? Come on.
The story, set in East Texas in the early 20th century, centers on a young man who has seen his share of tragedy already. His parents were killed while he’s a young child, leaving he and his sister in the care of their grandparents. His grandmother was killed in a farm accident shortly after his parents died, while his grandpa got murdered by a vicious band of bank robbers. This is where the story picks up. The same menaces who kill his grandfather kidnap his sister, and he enlists actually the best help he could ever hope for in tracking down her assailants and bringing her back. Shorty (Dinklage) is described as a “crafty” bounty hunter, a grave-digging alcoholic and the son of an ex-slave and a prostitute who knows her way around the streets – this guy isn’t messing around here with who he’s hiring, and Shorty is obviously not your normal gun for hire, either.
Though it’s unclear what happens to the sister, or what becomes of the kidnappers, it seems safe to say that Shorty is going to have blood on his hands; he’s not going to let any guilty parties get away without some hell to pay. Gianni Nunnari, who is developing the project under his Hollywood Gangis banner, is responsible for producing both Se7en and 300. Yeah, this isn’t going to be a neat and tidy procedural. Shorty is “crafty” in the way that he butchers perps, correct? Does he…does he perhaps show any bad guys a box at any point that may contain something absolutely terrible?
Dinklage, who is also producing The Thicket, is an exceptional choice for the role. Fierce, gruff and demanding in his dramatic and serious roles – from Game of Thrones to X-Men: Days of Future Past and far beyond – and skilled in assimilating into the bounty of bizarre and comedic parts in his repertoire – Knights of Badassdom and both incarnations of Death at a Funeral come to mind – when he’s faced with something like Shorty, a character who’s equal parts violence and mayhem, and then a little too much ridiculousness to be taken that seriously.
The grave-digging alcoholic son of an ex-slave and a prostitute sounds like the role of a lifetime, but also just a touch like tough guy madlibs. And Dinklage is going to play the hell out of it.