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Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris star with Academy Award winner Renée Zellweger as two gunmen tracking an escaped murderer and a beautiful, dangerous widow with an agenda of her own whose paths collide in the lawless western town of Appaloosa. When Virgil Cole (Harris--A History of Violence) and Everett Hitch (Mortensen--A History of Violence, The Lord of the Rings films) arrive in Appaloosa, they find a small, dusty town suffering at the hands of a renegade rancher with so little regard for the law that he has taken supplies, horse and women for his own and left the city marshal and one of his deputies for dead. Cole and Hitch, itinerant lawmen, are used to cleaning up after opportunistic thieves, but this time they find an unusually wily adversary--one who raises the stakes not by playing with the rules, but with emotions.]]>
In his second directorial effort (following the 2000 biopic Pollock), Harris takes his cue from novelist Parker's often deadpan-comic touch, allowing action and character to accumulate in accordance with an overall eccentric rhythm. (The film's main disappointment is that it would benefit from more running time to allow things to stew a bit longer, especially in the second half.) The character work is choice, from the moment Tom Bower, James Gammon, and Timothy Spall step into view as Appaloosa's civic leaders; the director's father Bob Harris contributes a cameo as a mellifluous-tongued circuit judge, and an age-thickened Lance Henriksen turns up midfilm as gunman Ring Shelton, trailing affability and menace. In collaboration with Dances With Wolves cameraman Dean Semler, Harris sets up shots and scenes in such a way that we often see into and out of Appaloosa's various buildings simultaneously, to excellent dramatic and atmospheric effect, and there's a thrillingly vertical dynamics to a scene involving a train at an isolated water stop. The action is lethal when it needs to be, but never dwelt upon. "That was over quick," Hitch observes after one gun battle. Cole's response says it all: "Everybody could shoot." --Richard T. Jameson
Top Customer Reviews
They get a break in the case when a young former hand of Bragg's agrees to testify. That happens about the time when the widow, Allie French (Renee Zellweger) comes in on the train.
Allie complicates matters a lot. As Hitch so eloquently puts it, "she wants to be with the herd stallion and there can only be one of those at a time." Cole, who claims to not have feelings, actually does care for French. She's not like any woman he's ever been with, she's clean, she's got good manners, etc.
"Appaloosa" has all the elements of a great Western, a little romance, some realistic gun play, excellent characterization, great scenery (principal film site Austin, Texas) and the typical western sense of humor. For example, when a gun battle gets both men injured, Hitch says, "That was quick." Cole's response, "Yeah, everybody could shoot."
Clearly, Harris and Mortensen had a lot of fun making this film. These two are friends in real life and this project was a labor of love for Harris who said in an interview that he's a fan of the author of "Appaloosa," Robert Parker. He usually reads the detective novels, but picked up the Western because he liked the cover and that's how the movie came to be.
If you enjoyed "Pale Rider" and "Unforgiven," this is a film you'll probably want to see. The "R" rating is for a little language, small nudity, and violence, but both my husband and I have seen a lot worse on broadcast television.
Rebecca Kyle, October 2008
Here the stories of Warlock and Appaloosa diverge. Warlock makes great use of the idea that fighting outlaws with mercenaries is a morally questionable solution, while Appaloosa features only one scene that ponders the question, even though the setup seems tailor-made for further conflict. Harris' character, Virgil, has been made uncomfortable and embarrassed by a conversation with his romantic interest (played by Renee Zellwegger), so he takes it out on some workers having a drink at the bar. Though drunk, they are doing no harm, and Harris' explosive temper and sense of impunity are first exhibited as he viciously pummels one of them before being restrained by Viggo's character (Everett). One of the town's officials questions this behavior, but beyond that it is never addressed again.
Other story similarities include a confrontation at the jailhouse (though the specifics of the scene were more reminiscent of one in ...Read more ›
Many reviewers have missed the whole point of the movie. It was not about two buddies/lawmen bringing peace to a town, although that does happen (mostly) and the gun fights are quick, brutal and ugly. The movie is about what happens when such a partnership is disrupted by a woman. Look at the DVD cover art and you can see it symbolically represented - there is Renee Zellweger standing between Mortensen and Harris.
****Spoiler alert****The rest of the review is just full of spoilers******
In this case, the woman is a pathetic, despicable thing. The movie comes from a Robert B. Parker book and his books are full of people (mostly women, but not always) that claim to be in love but really they are psychologically needy and act out sexually in strange, disruptive ways.
There are four main characters in this story: Marshal Virgil Cole, Deputy Everett Hitch, Bragg (a rancher/hotel owner) and Mrs. French, a pathetic woman that leeches onto powerful men out of some deep seeded need that we never quite have explained. Suffice it to say, Mrs. French is a survivor because she uses sex to endear herself to the most powerful man in her immediate area.
Many have misinterpreted (in my opinion, anyway) the "big" fight scene at the end. Here's my take
Hitch kills Bragg, but not to defend the honor of Zelweger character, Mrs. French, because she has none to defend.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This movie is a must see for any person who ever took an oath to serve in defense of our nation or our nation's communities as a peace officer. Read morePublished 7 days ago by Amazon Customer
As I finished watching this film, I was thinking of giving it a 3- or 4-star review, and tossing it in the "for sale" pile. Read morePublished 13 days ago by William Mortensen Vaughan
Pretty standard oater. Lots of posturing and difficult-to-make-out dialogue. Predictable plot. Overall, gets a ho-hum from me. Over-priced at $3.99.Published 15 days ago by L. R. Willis