Already taking a gamble settling in the uncharted west, the peaceful settlers of a town destined for railroad greatness suddenly find themselves being ruthlessly gunned down. With no law ...
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Already taking a gamble settling in the uncharted west, the peaceful settlers of a town destined for railroad greatness suddenly find themselves being ruthlessly gunned down. With no law and order to be found, justice falls onto the shoulders of an elderly rancher and an accomplished, but retired, gunslinger. Written by
While it didn't always succeed, at times I admired the effort
The railroad is coming and not all people want to sell their ranch to make way for the new rail line. The local officials working for the railroad are violently encouraging the families to sell their ranches at the railroad's price. A railroad official from Chicago has come to help speed matters up, but in a non-violent manner.
Ernest Borgnine is one of the ranchers who are refusing to sell. Working for Ernest Borgnine is a former gunfighter (Luke Rivers / Casper Van Dien) who has tried to leave his violent past behind, and a teenage boy (Michael H. Barnett). Among those working for the railroad is a former gunfighter friend (D.C. Cracker / Bruce Boxleitner) of Luke River.
I generally liked this movie as I favor Westerns. I did feel the script needed more work. I thought there may be a connection between Luke Rivers and the teenage boy - and if there was - I missed the explanation.
Connections/relations/conflicts between other characters could have been developed more. I am uncertain if this is because of the script, the direction, or if the actors didn't have the 'heft' to pull it off. James Stewart, or other 1950s Western actors, had the gravitas to imply much with little.
Because a Mexican shawl is so reminiscent of Clint Eastwood in his 'Man With No Name' spaghetti westerns, Casper Van Dien looked 'wrong' when he took to wearing one late in the movie. Instead of enhancing his gunfighter status, it diminished him in my eyes as he could not compare to Eastwood.
The director has a different visual style. Occasionally his tilted camera angles was distracting. I disagree with his overuse of tight closeups - especially during fight/brawl scenes. I couldn't get involved in the fight/brawl when I only saw the person who threw the punch or the person who received it with no good establishing shots as to which person was fighting who.
I also felt the violent scenes of the railroad enforcers terrorizing the families were too many and went on too long. It was more than I expected from a TV movie. It says something when the credits lists as an actress: "Terrified Woman".
On the plus side, the movie did try to present people on both sides of the conflict being right and wrong, good and bad. You may be right but sometimes it is hard to stop progress. I believe the "Aces and Eights" referred to losing with a winning hand. Within the Western clichés the movie tried to be different, and while it didn't always succeed, at times I admired the effort.
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