When Wyatt Earp (Kurt Russell), his brothers and their wives move to Tombstone, they intend on putting his life as a gunslinger behind them. There he meets long-time friend Doc Holliday (Val Kilmer), who has managed to upset a few of the locals by cheating in some cards games. However, a group of men known as The Cowboys also reside there, and they believe themselves to be above the law. In order to control the volatile situation in the town, Wyatt is asked to step up as Marshall, but after coming to the town wanting to escape that life he refuses the offer, causing brother Virgil (Sam Elliott) to take the job despite this going against Wyatt’s wishes. This essentially all culminates in a mass confrontation between them and The Cowboys, with some very bloody consequences.
Following my feature on the resurgence of the western genre, I watched Tombstone – not one of the classics, but not a brand new film either. I quite enjoyed it, but thought it could have possibly done with being ten minutes or so shorter.
Kurt Russell’s turn as the famous lawman was very good. Something about the man’s appearance makes him perfect for the type of character he took on as Wyatt Earp. I have no idea what the man himself looked like, but I just get the feeling that Russell embodied him before even opening his mouth. When he did start talking, however, every ounce of his heroism radiated across the screen he really communicated very well an element of humility – the man had had his glory years and now just wanted to retire peacefully. Like every hero, he never went looking for trouble in Tombstone, more likely it found him.
Then we had Val Kilmer as loveable rogue and Wyatt’s long-time pal Doc Holliday. When the film first introduced him to us, I half expected him to be the reason Wyatt would have to do what he had to, but as it was, he was one of the good guys, sort of. His character for me was like the fourth Earp brother. He had Wyatt’s back more than his actual brothers at times and the bond the two men, Kilmer and Russell, shared on screen was something quite special, I thought.
The story of Tombstone is supposedly based on real events. Now, I know nothing about this period of time, so I’m going to fail miserably at being a historical facts checker for the film. What I do know, however, is that I did like the story, but felt that it would have been better had about ten or fifteen minutes been trimmed off of it, as it was with about that long left of the film when I began clock watching a bit.
On the whole, I found Tombstone to be quite an enjoyable film and would recommend it to anyone who considers themselves to be a fan of westerns. It certainly doesn’t break any new ground, but makes for a couple of hours fairly well spent.