Appaloosa Ed Harris

Appaloosa Ed Harris
For those who thought Pollock should have been a Western, Ed Harris returns to the director's chair with Appaloosa, an old school cowboy flick starring Harris as the grizzled protagonist. While Appaloosa isn't a bad movie, it lacks the passion of its recent Western predecessors: 3:10 to Yuma was an emotionally anchored adventure; The Proposition was a hauntingly brutal parable; and HBO's Deadwood brought lyricism and stark humanity to the Old West. Despite its good intentions, without bringing anything new or exciting to the genre, Appaloosa becomes a stale cinematic experience populated by talented actors. After the disappearance of the town marshal, gunslingers Cole (Ed Harris) and Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) are hired to protect the town of Appaloosa from the murderous Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons). Matters are complicated by the arrival of Allie French (Renée Zellweger), who romances the emotionally bereft Cole, leaving them vulnerable to the manipulative Bragg. Ed Harris is one of the best actors in film today. He brings a dignified stoicism to the part of Cole but his and Robert Knott's adaptation of Robert B. Parker's novel doesn't offer a lot of depth for the actors to work with. Viggo is a fine actor with a cool swagger but the script doesn't allow him to do anything but swagger. Similarly, Jeremy Irons is wasted as the villain, whose only act of villainy occurs in the first 30 seconds of the movie. By the time the climatic shootout comes, none of the characters even seem to care about what's happening. Harris sets out to tell the story of a gunfighter desensitized by a lifetime of killing but the character's cavalier attitude saps any feeling of consequence from the proceedings. I'd like to see Harris direct again but this film ranks as a disappointment. The DVD special features include an appropriately dry commentary track with Harris and Knott, deleted scenes and four making-of featurettes about the characters and the historical authenticity of the film. (Alliance)