Judy and I saw this at a Friday matinee, and I was a little surprised by the size of the audience. The movie hasn't gotten a lot of publicity, and it slipped into the Houston area with no fanfare at all. People found out about it, though, and there was a good group in attendance.
First of all, I have to say that it was great just to see a western on the big screen again, and a traditional western at that. Well, traditional in a lot of ways, and unconventional in others. When I say traditional, I mean it's not a hyped-up action flick like the recent remake of 3:10 to Yuma. There's action and violence, but when it comes, it's quickly over and done with. I found this very effective, but it means that there are stretches of the movie devoted to character development and dialog. Some might find that a bit slow, and as we left the theater I heard a guy say that was his reaction.
If you're read Robert B. Parker's novel, you know what to expect. Ed Harris, who plays Virgil Cole, worked on the script, and he pretty much filmed the novel. It's been a while since I read the book, but the movie follows it point for point as I remember it. It uses a lot of Parker's dialog, too.
Harris and Viggo Mortensen (who plays Everett Hitch) are a team of professional gunmen, sort of free-lance lawmen you hire when you want your town tamed. They're hired by the Appaloosa town fathers to take care of Bragg (Jeremy Irons), who's killed the town marshal and his deputies.
Both Harris and Mortensen are excellent. Just about everything they do is right, including Mortensen's haircut. It's worth watching the movie just to watch these two at underplaying everything for all they're worth. Irons gets to be a little gaudier, but he's good, too.
It wouldn't be a Robert B. Parker story if it didn't have a woman for Cole to have a weird relationship with. Renee Zellweger plays Allie, who drifts into Appaloosa for no apparent reason other than to be that woman. She's the unconventional part of the movie, definitely not the virginal school marm or faithful wife and/or lover. Zellweger does her best, but she wasn't convincing to me. Where's Lana Turner when we need her?
All in all, I liked this quite a bit. I have to say again how good it was to see a movie like this in the theater, and I really hope that Harris will take on the sequel, Resolution. I'd buy a ticket in a heartbeat.