“Appaloosa” Friendship Stands Tall


Genres: Romance, Western and Adaptation
Running Time:
1 hr. 48 min.
Release Date: September 19th, 2008 (limited), October 3rd, 2008 (wide)
MPAA Rating: R for some violence and language.
Distributors: Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution

Directed by: Ed Harris

JJ Rating: B+

Two gunmen by the names of Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) come into town to help get things in order after the city Marshal and deputy are dead. Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons) is the questionable person that is believed to be the causer of most of the cities problems as well as murdering the marshal and deputy. Virgil and Everett set to make things better. Appaloosa.

Westerns are, as I’ve stated before, not one of the genres I like. I do like some westerns but it is an iffy process. With Appaloosa I was on that iffy precipice. It technically didn’t have a climatic moment, though it had a better try at it than City of Ember that’s for sure. It really kept the momentum of a trotting horse. It kept the same speed throughout the entire film. So from the moment it starts to the moment it ends the speed of the action and the speaking are the same. Oddly I think that’s part of the alluring charm of this movie.

I think the team of Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen and Renee Zellweger was awesome. There was great connection between all three. Jeremy Irons does a good job but his role reminded me a lot of There Will Be Blood so it kind of threw me. Ed Harris had a hand in writing and directing as well and I have to say that the directing was pretty good as well as the writing because it was witty, dry and subtle. It was different than what normally is in a Western, I think. But then again I’m not a huge Western fan, so what do I know? Ha.

Renee Zellweger normally has those squinty eyes, but in this film she has wide eyes and very flirtatious. Sometimes they would return to squint but not so much. She was the odd glow of the entire film. Harris and Mortensen played well off one another with their lines and their movements. It was like they shared one mind.

That’s one of the best things about Appaloosa is the friendship theme. Virgil and Everett are really friends. They knew what the other would do, say, think and they respected them when the other had something to say or if they were mad. There was massive amount of understanding going on. I really tend to like movies that champion good friendships. After seeing Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist I wasn’t expecting to see another film that would have a strong theme in that area. Not a Western, that’s for sure.

The ending is weird like 3:10 to Yuma but less bloodshed. Everything that leads up to that moment makes that moment believable. It makes it predictable because the way Mortensen acts prior. That’s why I thought he was really good as well as Harris’s directing. There are a couple of silent scenes at the end that are powerful because of how the camera shows it.

When it was over I was mildly impressed but not excited. Then I sit to write about it and think about all that I liked and didn’t like and the likes outweigh the dislikes in a stark manner. Appaloosa is impressive and different than other Westerns, enough so to allow it to stand up on its own and be appreciated for what it is. As long as you go to see this film knowing it plods along the disappointment of the methodical story telling will not bore you and you’ll pay attention to the dry wit and the smart acting and the great cinematography. And if you’re like me you’ll think, when it’s over, what a great story of friendship and then you’ll know what a priceless gift really costs.

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