draw tournament offering big money lures both homespun
hopefuls and celebrated gunslingers to its dusty doorsteps.
Herod figures it's easier killing them off and letting them kill
each other off so's to be sure of remaining "the fastest gun in
the West." But this year a woman has signed up. This story
centers around the woman (a sort of "femin-west" film). She
comes to town with a gun in her hand and revenge in her heart.
This role is played by Sharon Stone, who also co-produced the film.
Stone will probably have the sexy and dangerous character she
played in Basic Instinct attached to her for some time, but the
fact is that she has already appeared in 52 films and this one,
at least, shows that she is definitely capable of more.
Hackman turns Herod into a fascinating three dimensional
character and, as a result, makes him the most interesting one
because, despite being evil, he is human. All sorts of elements
display themselves in reactions which are not entirely written
into the lines.
New Zealand-born, Australian-raised actor Russell Crowe is
convincing as the quiet and moody Cort, alias bad-guy-turned-
good-guy, but one can't help noticing that he looks and acts
distractingly like Mickey Rourke. In any case, it should be
fascinating to see what he delivers opposite Denzel Washington
in his upcoming film Virtuosity.
It's also a joy to see Pat Hingle again who, although he only
plays a sort of cameo as Horace, the bartender and scorekeeper,
is a man of presence and great talent, even when he's placed in
a smaller role.
The art of gunslinging is noticeably visible throughout. I don't
think there's a film to match it in this respect. One marvels
at the number of times and ways guns are lifted, turned, twisted,
twirled, slung, toted, fired, and holstered in different and
fascinating ways. No simple "Bang! you're dead" for these
killers. Their talents are entirely due to the art of gun coach
Thell Reed, whose knowledge in this area includes a vast number
of historic draws made famous by a bizarre assortment of gunmen.
Director Sam Raimi seems to have given up the horrific thrills
of the unknown for the downright dirty gunslinging of the Wild
West. The result is a fast-paced entertaining western where the
bullets fly a mile a minute and the laughs are not left far
behind. One fun example is the moment where Ace Hanlon (Lance
Henriksen), the gun for hire who's come to town to kill Herod,
has his final confrontation; this ends in a surprising display
(to say the least).
Superb points for director of photography Dante Spinotti and
production designer Patrizia von Bandenstein as well as editor
It's worth viewing simply for an enjoyable evening of
entertainment. As Raimi himself says, "Our goal is to
entertain". And, besides, who wants to miss the chance of seeing
Sharon Stone ride into Redemption?
© 1994-2006 The Green Hartnett