10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Distorting Texas Rangers History,
This review is from: Texas Rangers (DVD)
I've read quite a few books lately about the Texas Rangers, including 'Taming the Nueces Strip' by George Durham, on which this film is supposedly based, and 'Texas Ranger' by N A Jennings, on whom the character of Lincoln Rogers Dunnison is obviously based. Jennings' book, as he himself admitted, is not wholly truthful, yet his character (Dunnison) is made the hero of the film, while Durham's character (given his real name) is a foil to Dunnison. Jennings lasted two years in the Rangers before going back east and never rose above private (and secretary to McNelly), while Durham lasted a whole lot longer and fought alongside McNelly with distinction. Yet in the movie Durham is made to look an excitable idiot, while Dunnison becomes a Ranger captain. Why the scriptwriters should have chosen to do this is a mystery.
Dylan McDermott as Captain Leander McNelly gives a very good performance, as does Robert Patrick as Sergeant John Armstrong (who captured John Wesley Hardin in later years). Alfred Molina's performance as a grinning King Fisher is neither menacing or cruel - just inept. The real King Fisher was confronted by McNelly but always escaped justice at the time.
The young McNelly made his reputation as a leader in the Civil War and further enhanced his reputation as a Ranger captain in the Nueces Strip. He once led a daring (and illegal) raid into Mexico to retrieve stolen Texas cattle from bandits but his men were never massacred by bandits, despite a few close shaves in Mexico.
Jesus Sandoval was a vengeful sadist, whose wife had been killed by Mexican bandits, but this character hardly figured in the movie (his gruesome exploits could not have been shown anyway).
The true story of McNelly and his rangers in the strip of land between the Rio Grande and the Nueces River in Texas has all the ingredients for a great action movie, so why did the director and scriptwriters put together this distorted tale? I just don't get it. I enjoyed watching the movie and was stirred by the final scene, where the rangers ride out from the Dukes (King) ranch, but all too often I was annoyed by the tampering with history and King Fisher figuring far too large in the story.