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Appaloosa

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Appaloosa (2008) --- A Western with Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen

Oct 11, 2008 (Updated Oct 11, 2008)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Harris and Mortensen are very good, the depth of the characters, great cinematography

Cons:Zelwegger needed more dialogue

The Bottom Line: On the whole it was a pretty good western, and Harris along with Mortensen put in some pretty darn good acting jobs to earn my recommendation.


It was about time for Hollywood to bring audiences another good western, and I think that they did just that with the film Appaloosa. Appaloosa is a Western that actor Ed Harris helped write the screenplay for, Directed, and also starred in as one of the lead actors. Wearing so many hats for one picture is a lot to ask of any man, and Harris ended up doing a pretty good job in all of the above. It wasn't one of those awe-inspiring epic westerns like Clint Eastwood brought with Unforgiven, but Appaloosa was pretty good in its own right. It was one of those films that once it was over, you could see yourself watching it again a second time, because it was an entertaining story with a lot of acting "chops" with which to pin-point as why the film was good. In that regard, I would have to say that the movie was quite a success.

Appaloosa may seem like an odd title, but it is the name of the town where nearly all of the important scenes for the film take place. In Appaloosa, a man by the name of Randall Bragg has been breaking laws left and right, running a gang of thugs and thieves that constantly drag down the town. The cause fights, don't pay off their bills at the local establishments, and have been causing a lot of other trouble. At the beginning of the film, we see just how bad Bragg and his men are, when they gun down the three law-men left in the town. The men are killed outside of town though, so the founders of the town only know that they are missing, and try to bring in other men to help quell the evil element of the town. This is when they turn to Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and his right hand man Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen). The pair seem to float from town to town, helping to clean it up at end of a gun barrel, but leaving things much better than when the found it.

Cole and Hitch have a stoic feel to themselves as they go about their business, and though it seems like they have a lot of conversations, they are men of few words, but plenty of actions. Their actions are made legal by a town that puts them in the position of town marshalls, and quickly the illegality of past actions within Appaloosa vanish. The lives of the two men though, are about to get much more complicated when they first meet a new woman to the town named Allison French (Renee Zellwegger) and then are forced to take on Bragg and his gang. Zellwegger is herself playing a complicated character that adds another interesting twist to the story, and the mystery of not knowing the real backgrounds of any of the three leads really keeps the film interesting and intriguing as it plays out. You can feel that there is going to have to be some resolution in both the relationships and moralities of all the characters before everything is said and done, and the audience is along for the enjoyable ride.

Playing the two gun-toting partners, Harris and Mortensen are both very good in the western genre. Zelwegger is somewhat good in her role, but there were times where it felt like she was a little out of touch with her character. While this may have been intentional or unintentional, I think it would have played better if the female lead had more dramatic scenes on-screen, rather than leaving a lot up to the imagination. Playing the villain (Bragg) is Jeremy Irons, who himself is perfect for the genre, and when the three men are on-screen at the same time, you can really feel the tension in the air. The story was a pretty strong one, if only because of the way that it was written, and though there are some spots where the movie does seem to jump too far too fast near the beginning, it was a worthy addition to the film genre. I enjoyed the movie, and felt that both Harris and Mortensen were quite good in their parts. I will definitely want to see it again, because I enjoyed the scenery of the New Mexico area, as well as their performances well enough to want to experience it again. I do recommend Appaloosa, and think that fans of westerns will also find it quite entertaining.


Recommend this product? Yes

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