Two friends hired to police a small town that is suffering under the rule of a rancher find their job complicated by the arrival of a young widow.
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Appaloosa (PG) * * *
By ROBERT WALDMAN
Howdy partners. Saddle up your horses and head down to the Esplanade 6, Scotiabank Theatre, Colossus and Famous Players Silver City cites to discover Appaloosa, the latest ode to the old west from Alliance Films.
Back way back when westerns were the toast of Hollywood, especially during the 40s and 50s. Good guy Ed Harris (Absolute Power) tries to revive this fabled genre in triple role duty: director, actor and co-writer. Lucky for us he pulls off a pretty good tale, not just a tall tale.
Lawlessness has long been a plague of the old west. Once news leaks out that bad things are happening in the small town of Appaloosa the town elders seek help. Enter law enforcers Virigil Cole and faithful sidekick Everett Hitch. Neither of these men say much but they pack a pretty lethal rifle and six shooter.
Chief villain of the valley is the fine coiffed Randall Bragg who seems to have everyone in his pocket. Violence erupts almost immediately with a pretty evenly balanced showdown there for the taking. Complicating factors, however, plague both sides, not the least of which is attractive Allison French who seems to be on everyoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mind.
You can almost taste the dust in the air as things in this wild wild west start to heat up. Ed Harris is particularly effective as the soft-spoken, plain talking Virgil Cole with Jeremy Irons (Die Hard With A Vengeance) terrific as the cultured thug out to make the town his own. Also quite good is the work of Viggo Mortensen (A History of Violence) whose mere presence on screen speaks volumes as a co-defender of justice in this unruly frontier.
Despite being a tad slow Harris succeeds in creating a gritty atmosphere of that small town frontier flavour and sprinkles it liberally with nice set pieces and effective characters. Even Renee Zellweger (Jerry Maguire) comes of age here as your typical school marm caught between a series of hot-blooded men who may just have met their match.
Certain rather subtle surprises and interesting plot elements helps make Appaloosa thoroughly watchable with revenge and grudges playing active parts in the building tension.
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