Monday, October 20, 2008

Movie Review:Appaloosa

A good Western can be a tough sell. Then again, a good Western can be tough to make. But Ed Harris took a stab at it, directing himself as Marshall Virgil Cole who, along with his partner Hitch (Viggo Mortenson) tours the country taking on peace-keeping jobs for hire.

Cole has his own set of rules which are of questionable legality but unquestioned effectiveness. When Marshall Joe Bell (Robert Jauregi) is murdered by Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons), he brings those rules and Hitch to the town of Appaloosa to bring peace to the town.

In Appaloosa he becomes enamored of widowed, loose-moraled Allison French (Renee Zellwegger). She threatens to drive a wedge between Cole and Hitch, though this is resolved when they chase Bragg after he escapes. There is a shoot-out, they recapture Bragg and things seem set aright.

However, Bragg manages to gain a pardon through political connections. In order to save Cole's job, Hitch kills Bragg and rides off into the sunset.

The plot, such as it is, is rather simple; can a woman come between 2 friends with different reasons for being lawmen? But the path to get there is entertaining. The slow pace of the movie gives you time to enjoy the interplay between Cole and Hitch, between Cole and French, and between Bragg and Cole. There are several fun lines and it avoids stereotypical Western climaxes: the shootouts exist but are not central to the plot nor particularly memorable.

Instead this is a buddy picture masquerading as a Western. If you like Westerns you will like Appaloosa.

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