Film Review – APPALOOSA (2008)

Appaloosa - Great Western MoviesAPPALOOSA (USA, 2008) ***
      Distributor: New Line Cinema; Production Company: Axon Films / Groundswell Productions; Release Date: 12 September 2008; Filming Dates: 1 October 2007 – 24 November 2007; Running Time: 116m; Colour: Colour; Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS; Film Format: 35 mm (Kodak Vision 2383); Film Process: Digital Intermediate (2K) (master format), Panavision (anamorphic) (source format); Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 15.
      Director: Ed Harris; Writer: Robert Knott, Ed Harris (based on the novel by Robert B. Parker); Executive Producer: Sam Brown, Caldecot Chubb, Toby Emmerich, Michael London; Producer: Robert Knott, Ed Harris; Associate Producer: Kathryn Himoff, Candy Trabuco, Janice Williams; Director of Photography: Dean Semler; Music Composer: Jeff Beal; Film Editor: Kathryn Himoff; Casting Director: Nicole Abellera, Jeanne McCarthy; Production Designer: Waldemar Kalinowski; Art Director: Steve Arnold; Set Decorator: Linda Lee Sutton; Costumes: David C. Robinson; Make-up: Julie Callihan, Geordie Sheffer; Sound: Curt Schulkey; Special Effects: Geoffrey C. Martin; Visual Effects: Ladd Lanford, Mark Freund.
      Cast: Viggo Mortensen (Everett Hitch), Ed Harris (Virgil Cole), Renée Zellweger (Allison French), Jeremy Irons (Randall Bragg), Timothy Spall (Phil Olson), Lance Henriksen (Ring Shelton), Adam Nelson (Mackie Shelton), Ariadna Gil (Katie), James Gammon (Earl May), Tom Bower (Abner Raines), Rex Linn (Clyde Stringer), Corby Griesenbeck (Charlie Tewksbury), Timothy V. Murphy (Vince), Bob L. Harris (Judge Callison (as Bob Harris)), Daniel Parker (Mueller (as Daniel T. Parker)), Gabriel Marantz (Joe Whittfield), Cerris Morgan-Moyer (Tilda), Robert Jauregui (Marshall Jack Bell (as Bobby Jauregui)), Luce Rains (Dean), James Tarwater (Chalk (as Jim Tarwater)).
      Synopsis: 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.
      Comment: Harris stars in and directs this slow-burning Western. He and Mortensen are peace-keepers for hire and when the residents of Appaloosa appoint Harris as marshal they hope he can loosen the grip that educated rancher Irons has on their town. Irons has murdered the previous town marshal and Harris and Mortensen go about their business of seeing justice done. Zellweger enters the story as the gold-digging new girl in town who seeks the companionship of the top dog, flitting between Harris, Mortensen and Irons. When Irons is arrested and put on trial, but subsequently escapes captivity the hunt is on. The character-driven script is injected with personality through its strong lead cast. The action is sporadic, but violent and deadly once it takes place. Whilst the plot is resolved, the main character stories are left in the air leading to a sense of unfinished business and a film that whilst engaging and well-mounted feels to be hesitant in coming to a conclusion. Tighter editing may also have helped to create a greater sense of urgency to the drama.