Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) are two hardened lawmen strengthened by their bond of friendship. They are commissioned to protect the settlement of Appaloosa from Bragg (Jeremy Irons), a one-dimensional villain. Meanwhile, Cole must deal with his capricious love interest, Allison (Renée Zellweger).
The film’s strongest aspect is the chemistry between Harris and Mortensen. They act like old friends, speaking with bluntness and humor.
The problem is that the rest of the film isn’t nearly as interesting. All the supporting characters are boring and flat, especially Irons. Amazingly, the pace manages to slow as the movie progresses, moving at a crawl by the end. Lastly, the fact that the film has no subtext whatsoever makes the dialogue and situations seem reductive. People don’t say exactly what they mean all the time – not even in the old west.
Though Harris and Mortensen give it a decent shot, their western lacks the appeal and depth of recent genre films The Proposition and 3:10 to Yuma. Check out either of those films for a much better look at the classic American genre.
Rating: 1.5 out of 4