DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Film Review - Appaloosa

Appaloosa (15)

Dir. Ed Harris

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“Feelings get you killed”

Cold hearted Gunslingers are some of my favourite characters in movies, you show me pretty much any movie and tell me it wouldn’t be improved by having a gnarly, righteous sharp shooting character in the mix. E.g. imagine Pride and Prejudice where Mr Darcy is a proud expert gun for hire, or High School Musical where Troy is a mercenary hitman as well as a base balling karaoke merchant – instantly more watchable? No??

Anyway, I’m a sucker for a good Western – I’ve recently enjoyed 3.10 To Yuma, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, had more than most for Open Range and even dug The Quick And The Dead which is why I was stoked to check out Appaloosa.

Featuring a hero named Marshal Virgil Cole (Harris) who’s a mean gun fighting lawman who hangs with his devoted deputy Everett (Viggo Mortensen) – also no slouch with a firearm. What we have here is a modern classic Western buddy movie, that explores good manly things like honour, male bonding / rivalry and what to do when your best friend’s wife grabs you and starts to eat your face…

The plot sees Cole and Everett hired to clean up the titular town of Appaloosa which is on its knees due to the unwelcome attentions of evil rancher Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons). Bragg is a nasty piece of work, whose character is established in the opening scene as he cold bloodedly blows away the previous Marshal of Appaloosa and both his deputies for having the nerve to come on his land and try and arrest two of his farm hands (who just happened to have murdered a visiting VIP and raped and killed his wife).

Then there’s the wild card Mrs French (Renée Zellweger) who comes on like a 1882 version of Bridget Jones. Now I’m not a Zellweger fan but she does an okay job here, I’d have preferred a real babe like Rachel Even Wood but that’s by the bye…( The bye in this term originally meant "a side path," whence the current sense of "off the track" or "of secondary importance – just in case you were wondering)…
French is the hand grenade thrown into the friendship of the two leads and a distraction that might get them both killed. She’s the type of girl who’ll get busy with whatever Alpha Male is closest to hand and is fickle with her affections despite Cole falling head over ass for her. Everett however chooses the comfort of straight talking whore Katie (Ariadna ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ Gil).

"Ariadna Gil - easier on the eye than Renée Zellweger"

Of course there are the baddie sharp shooters to put in the mix also and these come courtesy of the Shelton Brothers (Lance Henriksen and Adam Nelson), these two might just be the downfall of the heroes and it’s a wonderfully understated scene when they ride into town for the first time.

As well as the sporadic action, the twisty romance and a deep vein of unexpected comedy, there’s also just some fantastic scenes, such as when a mob of Bragg’s men go up against Cole and Everett, Cole steps forward and asks the leader “Are you afraid to die?”

To which he replies “nope”

Cole retorts:
“Good, because you go first...”
"any of you boys seen an aircraft carrier around here?"

DARKMATTERS RATING SYSTEM (all ratings out of maximum 10 but '-' is bad whereas '+' is good):

Endorphin Stimulation: öööööööö (8)
+ Cracks along, with really engaging central performances!

Tasty Action: öööööööö (8)
+ Strong shootouts and just enough action to please

Gratuitous Babeness: ööööööö (7)
+ These marks are all for Ariadna Gil...

Mind Blight / Boredom: ööö (3)
+ Doesn't drag at all

Comedic Value: ööööööö (7)
+ Some great moments of comedy

Arbitrary final rating: öööööööö (8)
Almost a masterpiece and certainly highly recommended

"Ariadna Gil - yep worth one more pic!"
Liable to make you:
"polish your six shooter..."
DM Poster Quote:
"Even in 1882 it was Bro's before Ho's"

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