William Phillips

BY Will SloanPublished Aug 21, 2010

Paul Gross is the Plato's World of Forms version of a leading man. He's ruggedly handsome in a way that suggests a mix of Bruce Campbell and mid-period Mel Gibson; old enough to seem world-weary; young enough to be a romantic lead; affable enough for end-credit blooper shenanigans; and too good-looking to not allow for some innocuous jokes at his expense. In Gunless, for example, he plays legendary gunslinger the Montana Kid, whose he-man image is continuously undermined by being forced to wear silky Chinese garments (har, har), among other modest indignities. Gunless is the Plato's World of Forms version of a Telefilm Canada production with aspirations of commercial success. Like most of our nation's middlebrow, box-office-seeking cinema, Gunless is a self-consciously Canadian spin on a quintessentially American genre, with all the mild self-deprecation that entails ("Once upon a time in the North," says the opening title, as if this juxtaposition were inherently funny). There's nothing really wrong with Gunless, but there's nothing particularly inspired about it either. The humour is neither funny nor unfunny (sample joke: a running gag involving painful bullet-removal from the backside). There is little palpable chemistry between Gross and leading lady Sienna Guillory, but their scenes aren't unpleasant either. The big shootout climax is competently executed, but not particularly exciting. The Montana Kid's arc from pistol-packing antihero to redemption can be predicted from a mile away, but it works well enough on its own clichéd terms. Gunless, then, is exactly the type of movie you might see and find passably entertaining when it eventually airs on CBC at two a.m.; it is a perfect mediocrity. Disposable DVD extras include several puff piece "Making of" documentaries heavy on lame behind-the-scenes tomfoolery. One of them is called "The Good, the Bad and the Canadians." I still don't understand why that's supposed to be funny.

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