Dir: George P. Cosmatos
Starring: Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn

After the revisionist Unforgiven the previous year, this is a reactionary Western, a black-hat/white-hat story, short on moral greys, but full of star power. At times it seems everyone is somebody; Charlton Heston, Billy Bob Thornton, even the narrator (who could have done his work in a lunch-hour, and still had time for a cheese 'n' ham toastie) is Robert Mitchum. But perhaps the most surprising thing is - and I never thought I'd write this - the best actor in the movie is Val Kilmer. His Doc Holliday is a fabulous contradiction, a Chopin-playing, tubercular killer, fiercely loyal to friend Wyatt Earp (Russell), even as the war against the Cowboys (led by Boothe, with Biehn as scary enforcer Johnny Ringo) escalates towards the inevitable gunfight at a certain corral. Less successful is the love story between Earp and a passing thespian that never convinces or is more than slightly interesting. Indeed, no female characters rise beyond stereotype; if they'd been dispensed with entirely, the movie would have been much tighter. Russell (sporting an amazingly fake-looking moustache, though Cosmatos swears it was genuine), does well as Earp - interesting to note his aversion to physical violence, preferring mental intimidation where possible. Michael Rooker provides some moral ambivalence, as a baddie who switches sides, and more such angles would have been welcome; as is, it's mostly straightforward action romp without pretension, but not much depth either.


Hat's the spirit...
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