Media Maven: “Appaloosa” Movie Review

Media Maven: “Appaloosa” Movie Review

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Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen, Renee Zellweger and Jeremy Irons


Remember how you drag your boyfriend to chick flicks and he goes to them for you? Well, here’s a movie that you could sit through just for him: “Appaloosa,” a Western based on the novel of the same name by Robert B. Parker.


Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) is one of the two law enforcers hired to protect the town of Appaloosa. Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen, “Lord of the Rings”) is the marshal’s gun for hire. Together Mortensen and Harris are a package deal.


Cole makes the laws and enforces them. Hitch makes sure no man breaks the law and shoots them to death, if they do.


Cole has lived a solitary life and can count on one hand the few times he has been with a woman. All of that changes, however, when an attractive widow comes to town to make roots. Cole is captured by the wiles of Ali French (Renee Zellweger). He loses his sensibilities, all for the allure of this woman.


The dynamic in this film between the central characters is what holds our attention. The law can prevent the bad guys from breaking the rules, but it’s much more difficult to prevent a woman from breaking a man’s heart. Cole can’t see past French’s need for security and power. In Cole’s attempt at finding happiness, it is in the eyes of Hitch that we see just how inconstant the widow is.


There is a secondary plot. A rancher (Jeremy Irons) is trying to take hold of the town by killing any person who gets in his way. This storyline is what makes this a real shoot ’em up Western! Motensen’s metamorphosis of his looks to create his character is one of the most enjoyable parts. His face looks very thin, and his goatee and hair style all serve to fit his cowboy persona.


Irons is too distinct a British character actor for viewers to be convinced that he was part of the old West. Zellweger gave a lackluster performance. It is Mortensen and Harris who carry this film. Harris not only stars in “Appaloosa,” he co-wrote the screenplay and directed the film.


Chic Stars: Two Chic Stars


Jan’s Movie Rating System:

5 – Top-notch entertainment
4 – Compelling, Heartwarming, Thrilling, Comical
3 – The a) story b) actors c) special effects saved/made this movie.
2 – If you are bored, watch it, or wait for DVD
1 – Don’t bother. Too morose, too violent, too blasè, an enigma.


Photo: Courtesy of Toxic Shock