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Packed with epic action, OPEN RANGE is a powerfully gripping story that's never been told until now, and stars Academy Award(R) winners Robert Duvall (1983 Best Actor, TENDER MERCIES) and Kevin Costner (1991 Best Director, DANCES WITH WOLVES), and Academy Award(R) nominee Annette Bening (1999 Best Actress, AMERICAN BEAUTY). A group of free grazers, four men trying to escape their past, are driving cattle and living off the land on the open range -- a place where nature makes the only laws. When a ruthless, evil rancher tries to run them out of town, the men's peaceful existence takes a tumultuous turn and ends in the grittiest, most explosive gunfight on film as two men battle a town for honor, justice, and a way of life that's quickly disappearing.
Released almost exactly 11 years after Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven, Kevin Costner's Open Range proved yet again that the Western is the classic American genre. While it lacks the thematic impact of Eastwood's masterpiece, Costner's first film since 1997's ill-fated The Postman returns the actor/director of Dances With Wolves to the open prairies of America--in this case the free-range frontier of 1882--where legal "free-grazing" cattle drives were falling prey to empire-building land-owners. In the wake of territorial murder, free-grazing cowboys Boss (Robert Duvall) and Charley (Costner) seek vengeful justice against the ruthless rancher (Michael Gambon) who threatens their law-abiding survival. A feisty ally (the late Michael Jeter, in his next-to-final film role) and a doctor's sister (Annette Bening) offer support during climactic shootouts, masterfully staged with the shock and suddenness of real-life gunfire. Rich in character development and thick-hided humor, this handsome production redeemed Costner's directorial career with a well-told story (by Craig Storper, based on Lauran Paine's novel The Open Range Men), flawless performances, and stunning Canadian locations. --Jeff Shannon
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Top Customer Reviews
The movie boasts beautiful scenery shots that literally take your breath away, although these are best appreciated on the big screen of a movie theatre than one's tv set. Even so, the cinematography is gorgeous and the western town of Harmonville is accurately reconstructed as a typical isolated range town.
What makes this film is the acting of Duval and Costner. Both are superb in their respective roles, Duval as an aging but rugged cattleman and Costner his younger able partner. There is no better crusty "cowboy" than Duval, who reprises some of the same acting mannerisms of his classic character Agustus McCrae (from Lonesome Dove). Costner is as visually perfect as a cowbay can be, with his long lean body, and his "matter of fact" acting style. The two make this movie work.
The plot unfolds rather slowly, after all, this is nearly a 3-hour movie. Adequate time is spent developing the characters, and there is enough tension/conflict to keep the movie rolling along without it bogging down. In a nutshell, Duval and Costner's two cowhands and small cattle herd are threatened by a powerful cattlebaron, who views "freegrazers" (those men who freely graze their cattle on the open plains) as nothing more than varmints or trespassers when they skirt his town. The conflict escalates quickly and leads to a final wild main-street showdown shootout. There is so much action from so many different guns, that it is hard to follow the intense action (which is probably more accurate in a shootout than just one or two shots. In this shootout, people actually miss their target (!), which I liked).
Annette Benning is Costner's fledgling love interest. Without make-up, Benning still makes a stunning portrait as the middle-aged, never-married sister of the town's doctor. She is excellent in her role, and her acting skill makes her a true "co-star" in this male dominated film. The love story between Costner and Benning is perhaps the weakest link in this film, as they go from being strangers to being engaged in the span of just 2 days! Even so, the budding awkward relationship between the two is intriguing.
On the down side, this movie is not suitable for children due to the gunfighting and considerable (but appropriate in an adult context) cursing.
This is as good as modern westerns get. It is engrossing, has a realistic plot, and the performances of the principal actors give this movie its true charm. Throw in the breath-taking visuals, and you have a good night's entertainment. I only wish Costner and Duval had made more westerns together.
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They both allow the characters to unfold their stories in the stereotypical cowboy way - stoically - without corny or cheesy lines, and delivered impeccably.
For me, it is a film with depth, and one that I know I can, and will, watch again...and again.
The delivery of this movie was slow, I received everything else from the order fast, but this took the full time to arrive- which is funny given it was mailed from only a little way away!