The Rodeo Thief stars Thom Hallum as Boone Carson, a well-known star of the rodeo circuit; a bull rider who’s been sidelined by injuries. Carson finds himself doing shady errands for a local cowboy-gangster (Texas-style) named Pat Rueben (Robert Keith) to make ends meet. Reuben is a loan shark, and Carson is sent as his intimidating enforcer to collect funds from reluctant debtors. At the opening of the film, Carson takes an expensive ring from a man who can’t pay… along with the finger that it’s on.
Carson has a few pressure points keeping him on the ropes personally and financially. His mother, Paulette (Donna Morrell Gafford), is ill and might be dying. Rising health care costs have caused her to go into foreclosure on the family home and land. Carson has a prize horse that he’s attached to and refuses to sell, but everyone, including his mother, expects him to sell the horse in order to save the house. His uncle Kyle (Jim Burleson) is in jail, and he’s dealing with a break-up as his girlfriend Brenda (Nadirah Shakir) has left him because of his toxic cowboy ways. It’s fair to say Carson has a full plate.
“…Reuben buys the loan on his mother’s house and uses the deed as leverage to keep Carson in his employ.”
When he threatens to quit the loan shark collection business, Reuben buys the loan on his mother’s house and uses the deed as leverage to keep Carson in his employ. He tells him he’ll hand over the deed after Carson does one more job: he must steal horses from the crew he used to work with during his bull riding days. The horse theft doesn’t go as planned, and all the loose ends of his life collide at once. Carson must find a way to get clear of the various tangles he’s created for himself.
Writer-director Brett Bentman has fashioned a satisfying fable of a man at war with himself, and the changes in his life after a back injury ends his rodeo career. The Rodeo Thief shares DNA with 2016’s Hell or High Water. The two films could be set in the same Texas town, and they both deal with cowboys willing to break the law violently to save their land and redress grievances they have with the system.
"…delves into the themes of toxic masculinity..."