Jason Momoa’s historical action flick, The Last Manhunt has officially been picked up by Saban Films. The Christian Camargo-helmed project, which comes from a story dreamt up by Momoa and the film’s scribe, Thomas Pa’a Sibbett, will tell the unbelievable true tale of America’s last big manhunt in the wild west. Hearkening back to the subject’s roots, the movie will feature a predominantly Native American cast including Martin Sensmeier, Mainei Kinimaka, Zahn McClarnon, Lily Gladstone, Raoul Max Trujillo, Brandon Oakes, and Tantoo Cardinal.
The Last Manhunt pulls its story straight from the pages of the overlooked history of the Chemehuevi tribe who call the area surrounding California’s Morongo Valley, Joshua Tree, and Yucca Valley home. The tragic tale of Willie Boy and those who pursued him took place between the boulder piles and cactus-lined landscape inside the present-day boundaries of Joshua Tree National Park. The year is 1909 and a young Native American man named Willie Boy (Sensmeier) accidentally kills his girlfriend, Carlota’s (Kinimaka), father. Fearing for their lives, the couple goes on the run, but with local pressure to find the two, the water begins to boil over. To make matters worse, President Taft is en route to the area, which in turn cranks up the necessity to find the duo and will eventually lead to a guns a blazin’ manhunt.
During an interview with Collider, Camargo revealed that he was tapped directly by his See co-star, Momoa, to helm the film in what Camargo refers to as a “collaborative event.” What first started as an on-screen role in the Western flick soon turned directorial for the actor when Momoa’s “schedule just got too limiting for him to do it.” Wanting to stay in line with his friend’s initial vision for the project, Camargo said that the production became “an improvised experiment,” and was “sort of like a co-formulation of something that was already there.” All in all, Camargo commented that the piece was “fun” and was a bit of a passion project as both men own property in the area, which gave them more of an insight into the place they call home.
Momoa and Sibbett’s names are also tied to the executive production team where they serve alongside LA Lakers‘ president Jeanie Buss, Michael Acierno, Dan Clifton, Stacy Kennedy, and Brian Andrew Mendoza. Martin Kistler and J. Eric Laciste join as producers.
If you’ve ever traveled to Joshua Tree from the west, you’ll know that the tragic history of Willie Boy and his star-crossed love story is tied in with the community. If nothing more, you’re bound to see the giant, now dilapidated building that was once a bustling restaurant and music venue called “Willie Boy’s Saloon.” Maybe, with the help of Momoa, Camargo, and Saban Films, Willie Boy’s record will be set straight once and for all. As of right now, the film is eying a release date sometime in November 2022.