DIRECTOR: Kevin Costner
May Contain Spoilers!
Kevin Costner has dominated the Western genre since he reinvigorated it back in 1990 with Dance With Wolves. But by 2003, Costner was doing little else. To start with, I like Kevin Costner and even though he can take himself WAY to seriously at times, this being one of them, he is at his best when he is lighter and more fun. Here he plays the ‘Gun hand’ to Robert Duvall’s ‘Free Grazer’, along with two others, as the quartet offend the locals, resulting in one of their murders and another left for dead. Duvall and Costner play wise and calm heads forced into action against a ruthless rancher (Michael Gambon) who intends to steal their herd and murder all four of them.
This is NOT a revenge drama. This is a character drama, gently told and played slowly by Duvall and Costner as they gradually make their way to the inevitable gun fright throughout the town, a fight which must or certainly should rank as one of the best Western gunslinging sequences ever committed to film. Costner over acts here but gets away with it, though the meta knowledge that he was directing himself as a brooding Western caricature didn’t help. And Duvall’s ‘teddy bear, avuncular’ nature can wear a little thin at times but one the whole, get passed it and see what a masterpiece of the modern western cinema that this film is.
Let it take you along on a tour of the old west as you’ve rarely seen it before. With grown men buying sweets and chocolate before the final fight and the two cowboys trying to the cross the flooding western street during a freak storm. One major complaint that I do have is the fact that the film does go on a little too long, with a seemingly redundant fifteen minute epilogue which did seem to me, to be self-indulgent but with these faults aside, Costner has pulled something off, a real gem which nobody ended up seeing and this was a tragedy in itself.
He takes his time, though sometimes too much, there are clichéd moments and characters but that’s okay, it’s what you would expect but whilst at first the plot would seem to be too simple for a two-hour movie, you can miss the details which are scattered throughout. Expect nothing but a gentle character story of the old west are you will be rewarded with an intelligent story and a top draw gun fight at the end.