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Better than Expected.
on 7 October 2011
My initial concern about this film was that it might be another low budget western dud, of the sort that occasionally make it to DVD. These fears were allayed when I saw the names of Tom Skerritt and Alfred Molina in the cast. Surely actors of their caliber would not appear in some awful low budget dross! Thankfully I was right, and this film was much better than I had hoped for. Far from perfect, but not bad at all! The films release was delayed for a year whilst it went through numerous re-edits. It finally emerged in theatres with very little publicity and duly bombed at the box office, which was undeserved but a fate shared with many a decent movie.
The film is loosely based on the exploits of a real Texas Ranger called Leander McNelly, who is played extremely well in the film by Dylan McDermott. In the film McNelly is the leader of a tough group of Rangers who recruit men to fight back against the constant depredations of Mexican outlaws. This of course proves to be dangerous work, with far more outlaws than Rangers in the field. There is plenty of decent action and the acting is of a high standard. The production values are high, with filming taking place in such faraway locations as Alberta, Canada, and the much used Durango in Mexico. McNelly commands the screen well as the driven leader battling tuberculosis, his own demons, and a whole passel of outlaws. James Van Der Beek gives him solid support. Tom Skerritt's short screen time is not enough for him to demonstrate what a fine actor he is. Alfred Molina unsurprisingly gets to play the bad guy. Okay, it does play havoc with history, but this is forgivable in the quest for good quality entertainment. My main grumble is that I would like it to have been longer, but the people in the cutting room may have curtailed the ambitions of director Steve Miner. Whilst it is certainly no classic, it is a film that deserves to be seen by fans of the western who should enjoy it.