"Riveting, But Flawed"
What You Need To Know:
APPALOOSA is a riveting western with interesting characters and some good twists. The cast does a top-notch job. The ending, however, could use a bigger action scene. It also ends on a bittersweet note. The movie extols the virtues justice, chivalry, faithfulness, and law and order, but it has a pagan worldview that doesn’t overtly acknowledge God or biblical morality. It also contains some strong R-rated foul language, including a few crude sexual references. This negative content warrants extreme caution. The MOVIEGUIDE® family guide to movies is still waiting for Hollywood to make another truly heroic western that families can enjoy.
(PaPa, B, LLL, VV, S, NN, A, D, M) Strong pagan worldview with some talk about justice and obeying the law, as well as some chivalry, but nothing overtly religious or spiritual; about 29 obscenities (including a few “f” words), three strong profanities, seven light profanities, and two men urinate on saloon floor before two lawmen come and stop them; strong action violence with some blood includes people shot dead, people wounded in shootout, man punched and beaten, several gunfights, man smacks another man in mouth with his pistol, man hit and challenged to a gunfight, Indian attack averted; implied fornication, mentions of prostitution, woman tries to seduce boyfriend’s partner, and a couple crude sexual comments; rear male and female nudity in skinny dipping scene; alcohol use; smoking; and, lawman loses his temper once, kidnapping, lying.
APPALOOSA is a better than average western, but it ends with a bit of a whisper rather than a bang and has some strong negative content. The movie is based on a novel by Robert B. Parker, who usually writes noteworthy hardboiled detective fiction.
Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen play Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, two lawmen for hire in 1882 New Mexico who roam from town to town clearing out desperadoes. The town leaders of Appaloosa, a small mining community, hire them to stop a ruthless rancher named Randall Bragg, played by Jeremy Irons. Bragg and his men are running roughshod over the town. In fact, Bragg himself has murdered the former sheriff and two deputies.
As Virgil and Everett take a tough stand against Bragg, a provocative widow named Allison French, played by Renée Zellweger, captures Virgil’s heart. Allie, however, is a scared filly in a world of tough men. She turns out to be a bit fickle and endangers the progress Virgil and Everett make in cleaning up Appaloosa and putting Bragg in jail. She also threatens to disrupt the two lawmen’s 12-year partnership. Therein lies the rest of the story.
APPALOOSA is a riveting western with interesting characters. The cast does a top-notch job. There are also some unexpected twists that add depth. The ending, however, could use more action. It also caps things off on a bittersweet note as Everett makes a life-changing choice that resolves the conflicts among Virgil, Allie and Bragg.
APPALOOSA is not a revisionist western like some, but it does portray the people in the West as more flawed than the classic Hollywood western. Thus, the movie contains more overt sexual references and strong foul language than the classics. Also, the main hero, Virgil, displays a vicious temper when one of the male citizens of Appaloosa starts cursing in front of Allie. Despite some moments of chivalry, the world presented here is not a religious one. Even so, the movie has moments where characters extol the virtues of justice, law and order.
Ultimately, APPALOOSA requires extreme caution for its pagan worldview and strong foul language, which includes some crude sexual references. MOVIEGUIDE® Magazine and Website is still waiting for Hollywood to make another truly heroic western that families can enjoy.