Unlike the 1950′s, Westerns aren’t plentiful in today’s cinema. So when one does pop up you should be looking for two things. First off, it should consist of a story that hasn’t been done to death before. Secondly, it should leave you with a feeling of wanting to go saddle up a horse, strap on a six shooter, lower your hat, and ride off into the sunset. The new film Appaloosa accomplishes this and more.
(Ed Harris and Vigo Mortensen) star as Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch.Two no nonsense Lawmen for hire who are summoned to the town of Appaloosa, which is under the thumb of local bad guy Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons). To complicate things, the recently widowed and squinty eyed love interest (Renee Zellweger) shows up to drive a wedge between our two heroes and is sure to cause more trouble than she’s worth. The dust temporarily settles, but the towns fate is still yet to be decided. What will become of Appaloosa?
Co writer, Director, and star Ed Harris teams up with cinematographer Dean Selmer to accomplish a great looking story that doesn’t feel recycled. From the dramatic opening scene all the way to the not so predictable end, the film has a honest look and gives us some genuinely funny moments that are not usually tied to the Old West.
It’s not a perfect film, but it’s definitely worth watching on the big screen. The two main hangups I had, are why Zellwegger was chosen for the romantic lead, because there easily could have been ten other actresses that fit the role a little better. And (Irons) villain seems to be become less dastardly as the movie goes along. We are meant to believe he’s trying to change his ways but it comes off like he’s settling into a cleaned up sneering evildoer. However, these small trifles aren’t enough to make the movie unwatchable.
Hats off to Mortensen and Harris who superbly helm their characters with underplayed emotion and great chemistry. Although the two are very much a like, their differences are what allow them to play so well against each other. Appaloosa at it’s core is a story of trust and loneliness, everyone in the film is either trying to decide what they should do next or who they can depend on. The slogan that leaped out at me while watching the film was, Bros before Hoes. Not the most eloquent of analogy’s but I think it fits here just fine.