A hardened American gunslinger is repeatedly thwarted in his attempts to mount a showdown in a friendly town in Canada where no one seems to understand or appreciate the brutal code of the American Wild West.
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A quiet and peaceful community in the Dominion of Canada is shaken up by the arrival of a wounded and stinky gun-toting American cowboy, simply known as The Montana Kid, wanted for the alleged killing of seven men. A subsequent clarification reveals that his real name is Sean Rafferty, and he admits to killing, not seven, but eleven men. Things only get worse after Sean gets in the bad books of the local militia, and with armed bounty hunters hot on his trail, challenges the local unarmed blacksmith, Jack Smith, to a duel - wild west style! Written by
Promoted as a comedy, Gunless is your basic 'fish out of water tale'. This time out a hardboiled American gunman encounters a town full of sweetly naive Canadians who, seem to have settled the west without even raising their voices at each other let alone resorting to - gasp - violence.
What the film actually is is a pleasant but not really funny or dramatic exercise in safe script writing. Americans, as is usual in Canadian films, are portrayed as violent and stupid and authority figures as ridge and out of touch. That's about the extent of any social commentary.
Paul Gross, to his credit, tries his best to carry the film - and accent - but everything here is surface. Dramatic scenes like when the love interest talks about being abused or when the Kid recounts the men he has killed come off flat and unconvincing.
Shot more like a t.v. movie then a feature Gunless is mostly limited to close up and two shots. It fails to convey a sense of time or place and you never feel this is a small isolated town on a vast frontier.
The final act, a stand off between the Montana Kid versus his old nemesis, a scarred bounty hunter, never has a chance. Refusing to commit to the humour of a Blazing Saddles or the grit of Unforgiven, Gunless keeps to the middle lane of the uncommitted.
Gunless then is a brisk, polite and forgettable time waster.
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