USA Release date: 3rd October 2008
Watched on Sky+ Sunday 6th January 2013.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I must admit I knew very little about this film before viewing it; I didn’t even know that Ed Harris had co-written and directed it before the closing credits! Even so I did find it quite enjoyable; it did have a few foibles, which I’ll go into later, but over all it ticked enough boxes. Here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.
When their Marshal is killed by connected rancher Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons), the townsfolk of Appaloosa employ one Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and his deputy Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) to bring order back to their town. The men insist that they are free to dispense justice as they see fit and have papers, which are duly signed, to make it legal. They act swiftly and soon three of Bragg’s men are dead. Of course, this brings Bragg to town, trying to forge a deal with these new lawmen, but they aren’t about to back down. Enter widow, Allison Fitch (Renée Zellweger), who immediately takes a shine to Cole. He is quite inexperienced as far as relationships go, but soon becomes enamoured with her. Then evidence comes up that links Bragg to the Marshal’s murder and this is where things begin to get interesting.
The story focuses on the relationship between Cole and Hitch, and what affect the (rather flighty) Mrs Fitch has on it. I actually quite liked this aspect of the plot; it gave the characters some realism, something that many westerns lack. All the performances from the main cast were excellent; in particular Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen, who takes the prize for the best beard and moustache combo I’ve seen in many a year! I wasn’t too sure about Jeremy Irons as the bad guy at first, but he soon grew on me; as did Renée Zellweger as the femme fatale. Performances aside, I must warn you that at times it can be painfully slow, but I didn’t particularly mind that. Over all, it did have a few quirks, but, for me, it worked. I would probably watch it again sometime and I have a feeling I’d enjoy it more second time around.
SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED
My score: 6.8/10.
IMDb Score: 6.8/10 (based on 35,783 votes when this review was written).
MetaScore: 64/100: (Based on 32 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 54/100 (based on 54,053 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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[after a shoot-out]
Everett Hitch: That was quick.
Virgil Cole: Yeah, everybody could shoot.
Randall Bragg: It's hard to like a man who won't take a drink.
Virgil Cole: But not impossible.
Everett Hitch: Life has a way of making the foreseeable that which never happens... and the unforeseeable that which your life becomes.
Randall Bragg: I told you you'd never hang me, Cole.
Virgil Cole: Never ain't here yet.
Allison French: Aren't either of you afraid?
Virgil Cole: Afraid?
Allison French: That you might get killed.
Virgil Cole: Oh, I don't know, Allie. Guess I don't think about it so much.
Allison French: Well, I'm afraid. But I'm afraid all the time.
Virgil Cole: Of what?
Allison French: Everything.
Virgil Cole: Like what? Hmm?
Allison French: Like being alone. Like being with the wrong man. Not having any money, a place to live.
Virgil Cole: I'll look out for you.
Allison French: For how long?
Virgil Cole: For as long as you need.