The local politicians of Appaloosa hire friends and partners Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) to protect the town. During their first assignment, the two come face to face with the posse of powerful rancher Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons), who was the man to make the call to have the previous marshal and his deputies killed. The arrival of piano player Allison French (Renee Zellweger) complicates matters further as she grows close to Virgil and the two make the decision to move in together. When one employee of Bragg’s offers to testify against his boss, Virgil and Everett get ready to bring down the tyrant. However, an ambitious escape plan sees Bragg escape and Allison abducted. This leaves the two partners to figure things out together – can they overcome their recent differences to do so?
The 2005 western, Appaloosa, is not a film I was overly impressed by. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t awful, in fact, it was quite watchable, but there was nothing about it that had that ‘wow’ factor for me. Put it this way, it’s taken me two weeks to get round to writing this review.
Despite my general findings with the film, I have to say that one particular performance was very befitting of the piece. Ed Harris completely embodied everyone’s idea of the town’s grizzled marshal. I do believe that there were points in this film when Harris could easily have been placed amongst the likes of John Wayne and Robert Mitchum. He just nailed the mannerisms and characteristics of any man who could have been found during the period in which Appaloosa is set.
As much as I usually like him, Viggo Mortensen didn’t blow me away with his performance. I just didn’t really feel like he was on the same level as his character, Everett. A big feature of Mortensen’s performance was trying to hide his jealousy, and I personally think that the man could have done quite a bit more with the character. The actual performance just felt a bit muted.
The storyline was a rather conventional one where westerns are concerned, and I think that’s partly why I felt so indifferent to it. However, Appaloosa was also gifted with the finest quality raw materials – a somewhat all-star cast, and a director who clearly understands the genre. Unfortunately, these aspects didn’t seem to gel well enough together with that conventional storyline to elevate it to greater heights. It’s slightly frustrating to watch, but it’s also quite difficult to review!
On the whole, I don’t really know what it is I want to say about Appaloosa. In all honesty, I think this has been one of the hardest films I’ve reviewed since I started blogging, not because it was awful, but just because I found it to be quite plain in the sense that it didn’t give me an awful lot to work with when it came to writing about it. It was adequate, how about that?