Film, Action and adventure
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It ain’t easy being a lawman in a Western mining town like Appaloosa, home to a slimy rancher named Bragg (Irons). For starters, Bragg just shot three deputies who tried to arrest him, and his lackeys have a tendency to test your quick-draw skills after a few whiskeys. And of course, the inevitable pretty lady (Zellweger) will attempt to domesticate you, asking you to pick out curtain patterns and such. Luckily, sheriff Virgil Cole (Harris) and his longtime partner, Everett (Mortensen), are watching each other’s backs and supplying plenty of flinty masculine banter. The Wild West should be tamed in no time.

Ed Harris’s oater doesn’t try to reinvent the wagon wheel so much as build a sturdy carriage from old parts. Despite nods toward dispelling the genre’s mythology—gunshots are muted pops instead of reverbed Howitzer ka-pows—the actor, director and cowriter opts to work intimately within a meat-and-potatoes formula. The model isn’t Ford’s mournful epics or Mann’s psychological potboilers, but the sagebrush case studies of Delmer Daves, who treated the open range less as a character than as a backdrop for character development.

But apart from the pleasure of hearing Harris and Mortensen trade old-married-couple quips (like so many Westerns, it’s really a love story between two men), there’s little to distinguish Appaloosa from its legion of ancestors. Only a brief showdown in a Mexican square suggests that Harris can use space to create tension, and the dragging pace has sucked the air out by the time the climax rolls around. These are horse-opera fundamentals; having given them short shrift, the film just shuffles down its lonesome trail into the horizon and out of your memory.

By: David Fear


Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday September 26 2008
Duration: 114 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Ed Harris
Screenwriter: Ed Harris, Robert Knott
Cast: Lance Henriksen
Jeremy Irons
Renée Zellweger
Ed Harris
Viggo Mortensen
Timothy Spall

Average User Rating

2.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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The usual garbage when the director also stars in the film. Self indulgent nonsence, slow, poor story line, Ed Harris at his worst.

usman khawaja

the psychological overtones which enshrine the first act are very striking and viggo and harris strike a great partnership with irons in the third spot. the plot is formulaic and yet the story holds because of the subtlety and the quest for justice and some brilliant old courtroom satire on law and order and then it looses ground with un necesaary indian raids and romance as if harris wanted every stereotype from the genre in his kitty, when you have a sensitive realistic narrative and performances why go for the obvious run of mill later ,in this aspect it seems to flail and renee has a rather implausible character as an insecure woman who is so dumb as to be preying publicly on every man in her sight , though she has acted well -one really assumes a street wise harris would see through her as he does in the first scene but then he acts out of conviction, destroying most of the early character building for a shallow romance . it tries to pose as a butch cassidy and sundance clone with the trio and the train robberies but it is too stretched and overlong to come close to that classic . it is definitely worth a look for the intense brooding first half and the subtle and mature acting crowned by the splendid performance of viggo mortensen and that is where ed harris finally scores .


Enjoyable, sedately paced western which loses its way a little bit towards the end and is maybe slightly overlong.