As remakes go, this one is pretty good…
THE PLOT: Within the first 10 minutes of the film we have already witnessed the burning of a ranch and a stage coach robbery. Soon, the victim of the first crime (rancher Christian Bale) and the perpetrator of the second (outlaw Russell Crowe) have their first confrontation – and many more will follow during the two hours running time of the film. The main story line unfolds slowly, but before boredom can rear its ugly head something happens that pulls the plot forward.
THE PLAYERS: The two main roles are played quite well by Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. However, the real pleasure is the performance of Ben Foster, playing gunslinger Charlie Prince. Some ‘bad guys’ need some time before you really hate their guts, but Ben only needs seconds. Also collecting pay checks: Peter Fonda, Luke Wilson and Kevin Durand.
THE PLEASURES: Excellent pacing and beautiful cinematography – with a great build-up to the final shoot-out. The film is sprinkled with occasional wit and a musical homage to Sergio Leone .
THE POINTS: 75 – a measured blend of traditional western stylings and modern sensibilities.
THE WHISK(E)Y: Even though I’m not a huge fan of most American Bourbon whiskeys, they probably go best with a western. And for this film with ‘classic’ overtones I’d go for Jim Beam Rye.