Time Out saysCostner's fourth notable Western has more in common with the troubled deliberations of Wyatt Earp than that prairie-tale Rousseau, Dances with Wolves. Ceding top billing, but not the girl, to Duvall's seen-there, been-that cattle-driver, 'Boss', Costner's Charley Waite hides bad dreams yet a good soul under his Stetson. When despotic rancher Baxter (Gambon) takes violent exception to these free-grazers, Charley and Boss are compelled to take their stand, town folk making scarce as the retributors set to it. Handsomely mounted, as you would expect, Open Range has a good deal to commend it. Sorting the cowboys from the cattlemen, Costner and screenwriter Craig Storpor are shrewd enough to see evasion in the lure of those wide open spaces. Riding together ten years, these silent men know next to nothing about each other, not even Boss's real name. That doesn't invalidate their friendship, but it does suggest how Charley might need to seek habilitation from Bening's girl named Sue (before the movie's through he'll be ordering up fine china). Such niceties sit awkward with the extended and genuinely gripping bloodletting which dominates the film's run-in. New men, Old West, you might say. Marred by hackneyed writing and Costner's egregious sentimental streak - it's hard to trust a director more moved by the death of a mutt than the fate of a man - this sober, enjoyable movie falls well shy of greatness, but it's still a welcome reminder of an unfashionable genre in its maturity. (Based on The Open Range Men by Lauren Paine.) TCh.
Cast and crew
Michael Gambon, Ian Tracey, Abraham Benrubi, Peter MacNeill, Kim Coates, Michael Jeter, Annette Bening, Diego Luna, Robert Duvall, Julian Richings, Cliff Saunders, Pat Stutz, Dean McDermott, Herb Kohler, James Russo, Kevin Costner