Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
Stellar casting + an extremely banal scenario = a very average albeit watchable film
on 21 May 2014
I found this 2008 western watchable, but absolutely nothing more and couple of hours after seeing it I already couldn't remember some details... Below, more of my impressions, with some limited SPOILERS.
In 1882 the town of Appaloosa, New Mexico, is ruled by a local cattle-baron named Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons), who doesn't hesitate to kill those who oppose him. The people of the town hire then a wandering lawman (a "town-tamer") named Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and his deputy, Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen), to end Bragg's reign of terror... It will not be easy, as Bragg has many cards to play, including but not limited to evil henchmen like Ring Shelton (Lance Henriksen). At one moment also a "femme fatale" (Renée Zellweger) will appear and try to drive a wedge between Cole and Hitch.
This is not a bad film, but it is somehow... banal. The scenario is not very good and dialogs are really lame, with a grand total of ONE good one-liner in a 115 minutes movie... Also shootouts are not very good - don't expect any brilliant action scenes. Soundtrack could as well be absent - nothing here that can be measured against some old western music...
The only reason why this film is even watchable is the cast which is indeed stellar: Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Jeremy Irons (who clearly had the time of his life playing a bad guy in a western!) and Lance Henriksen are always a pleasure to watch, in anything. As for Renée Zellweger, well, I didn't like her much in this film, mostly because I never was a fan of her, in fact quite the contrary - and also here her character is unpleasant and annoying...
Some people suggested that this film is a kind of very distant remake of 1959 "Warlock" with Henry Fonda and Anthony Quinn, but I strongly disagree with that. Not even mentioning many other differences, the crucial point is that in "Warlock" it was clear that one of "town-tamers" (played by Anthony Quinn) was a closeted homosexual totally in love with his boss (played by Henry Fonda). No such thing is perceptible here.
Bottom line, this is a film slightly disappointing and rather banal, but still watchable, mostly for the performance of the four main male actors. It is just a pity that dialogs and action scenes are so LAME - with just a little more effort it could have been a really solid, good western. Recommended for renting rather than buying.