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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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Duvall's character was loyal and full of vinegar, intelligence and a can do attitude that made inevitable the confrontation forced on him by a smug, arrogant man who greatly underestimated him. When the going gets rough the tough get going. Duvall got going.
These two men, who in spite of the different world they lived, in understand and respect one another and held onto their humanity and sense of justice. They settled their own fights without self-pity never once complaining or backing down from what their inner essence demanded of them. These men have integrity and it demanded they protect the weak and not shirk from those who dare cross their boundaries uninvited. Respect what is mine and I will leave you in peace. You will only cross me once.
The movie comes across as authentic and the little inaccuracies are unimportant.
It is high drama and Kevin Costner once again proves himself to be a true movies star and one of the great actors of our day.
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.
While there are a variety of themes covered in westerns, one frequently seen is a town that is being dominated by an evil family, and its head. Frequently such an individual would have, or would seek total control of a critical resource. In the RHS the resource was water and the evil family was the Clavers clan, and its head Larn Claver, who considers Driscoll, MT his town.
The movie "Open Range" is a similar movie. Here the resource is grazing land and the cattle barons do not want any "free grazers" using "their land." Here the ruthless and evil rancher is a Denton Baxter, "an Irish born land baron who considers Harmonville his town."
The cast includes:
1) Robert Duvall, perhaps my favorite western actor, as the head free grazer;
2) Kevin Costner, perhaps my least favorite actor until this movie, as the #2 free grazer, and former Civil War sniper and gun slinger, a man very accustomed to killing;
3) Annette Bening, who I had not seen before this movie, is the sister and assistant to the towns doctor, and gives an outstanding performance as the love interest of the #2 free grazer. Perhaps the key weapon that gave the free grazers a chance was the lifting an extra bottle of chloroform from the doctors cabinet. This was used to subdue the crooked town marshal and his men prior to the final gun fight.
And this resulting gun fight makes the "Gun Fight at the OK Coral" look like the amateur hour.
Accolades were many such as "Two Thumbs Up" by Ebert & Roeper.
Awards included the2004 Western Heritage Award. This was likely do to this story between cattle barons and open rangers "that's never been told before now", and suggests a level of accuracy that may have never been reached before.