Sometimes you just want to watch something familiar and cozy. When it comes to western movies, Appaloosa will give you that and much, much more. It’s based on a 2005 novel of the same name by crime writer Robert B. Parker. This gives it that literary edge and storytelling oftentimes lacking in modern westerns. And not just that as Appaloosa features excellent character development. These are not some cardboard cutouts but living, breathing, and flawed characters, just like in real life.
The story switches between simple and complex with ease, slowly immersing you in the world of the Wild West. Now, this is just a twist strapped to a body of a familiar western theme, so don’t expect any wonders here. We will have a story of friendship, love, loyalty, and evil, just like in most movies in this genre. Eight years after he directed Pollock, Ed Harris is back at it again with this movie. He did a good job but more impressively, he gathered quite a cast.
Jeremy Irons seems to be very natural when it comes to playing the bad guy and you already know that Viggo Mortensen was amazing. Add to this crew Renée Zellweger and Timothy Spall and you see why people loved Appaloosa. They really brought all of those characters from the novel to life. And while we will deal with some pretty difficult issues, this doesn’t mean there’s no room for humor. And just to get back to directing a bit, I think that the camera was too static most of the time here. Just something to think about for the next time Ed.
Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch are old-school guns for hire, full of words of wisdom and experience. They arrive in the town of Appaloosa where they have been hired to bring to justice a local troublemaker rancher Randall Bragg. In this mess arrives a piano player Allison French. And of course, Virgil falls for her.
You might say that the western genre kind of died off in the nineties. I guess the last good movie was The Quick and the Dead and even that was this weird blend of action, humor, and comedy. It didn’t take long for the revival to commence but what we got was of a much darker and visceral nature. I’m talking about movies like The Proposition and The Salvation, offering a different perspective on basically the same stories. Still, we wouldn’t want to forget about movies like Open Range or 3:10 to Yuma featuring a more classical vibe.
Appaloosa is in a category of its own. I would say it has a feel of a television movie or miniseries, much more popular nowadays. However, it also looks very modern and appealing with a cast full of familiar faces. And while the story goes through the usual hoops, it’s so cleverly written that you won’t realize you heard it many times before. So, be sure to check it out.
Director: Ed Harris
Writers: Robert Knott, Ed Harris, Robert B. Parker
Cast: Jeremy Irons, Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Timothy V. Murphy, Luce Rains, Renée Zellweger