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Appaloosa (2008) Appaloosa is a Western that tries to be square and hip, light and dark, all at the same time. Maybe it's no surprise that the… 2008-10-03 2008-09-19 R PT114M Drama Western Ed Harris Viggo Mortensen Renee Zellweger Jeremy Irons New Line Cinema
Movie Review

Appaloosa (2008)

MPAA Rating: R

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Appaloosa | Appaloosa Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris
Image credit: Matt Lankes
Appaloosa Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris

Details Release Date: Oct 03, 2008; Limited Release: Sep 19, 2008; Rated: R; Length: 114 Minutes; Genres: Drama, Western; With: Ed Harris, Viggo Mortensen and Renee Zellweger; Distributor: New Line Cinema

Appaloosa is a Western that tries to be square and hip, light and dark, all at the same time. Maybe it's no surprise that the results are mixed. Ed Harris, who directed the film 
(it's his first time behind the camera since Pollock eight years ago), also stars as Virgil Cole, a roving freelance law enforcer of
 the 1800s who shows up in the town of 
Appaloosa along with his taciturn sidekick, Everett (Viggo Mortensen). For a price, they offer to rid the town of Randall Bragg,
 a sneering bully and killer played by Jeremy Irons in what could almost be a grungier
 impersonation of Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood. Irons is enjoyably nasty, enough to make you wonder why no one thought to cast him in a Western before.

Harris, for his part, comes off as a classic sure-shot protector — that is, until he beats up a loser in a bar with so much more violence than is necessary that the film seems to be saying this lawman is a bit of a sociopath, too. (The actor's icy gleam certainly suggests it.) The movie, though, pulls back on this idea, and after that scene Virgil is never as interesting. Appaloosa is a pleasingly spacious piece of work, but for all of its little tangles it never musters the kick of a psychological duel. Renée Zellweger, as the peach-blossom-fresh Allison, is the most amoral character here — a woman who loves whomever's around — but except 
for her, Appaloosa is a throwback to the age when Westerns were quaint. B-

Check out Dave Karger's chat with writer-director-star Ed Harris

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Originally posted Sep 16, 2008 Published in issue #1013 Sep 26, 2008 Order article reprints