A good movie should make you want to watch it within the first 10 minutes -- 5 if it is done by a master. This movie makes you want to turn it off after the first 10 minutes -- 5 if you have a sensitive stomach. If that's the way you feel, my advice is trust your gut. This movie is a gold-plated piece of coprolite.
The greatness of the original Maverick series was in the classy, clever writing. Try watching another TV western from that era and you will see a lot of gunfighting, chases, cattle drives and covered wagon trains, ad nauseum. Maverick had a formula, and a lesson for life: appearances can be deceiving. But in this remake, the deceptions are glaringly obvious and not at all clever.
What James Garner is doing in this is not entirely clear, beyond the obvious window dressing. He never gets a chance to act. Back in the Fifties, Warner Brothers cheated him, and Garner left after two seasons with the help of a lawyer. Watching Warner so cluelessly bollixing this movie version, with Garner standing right there available for advice which surely was not sought, probably left Garner with some small satisfaction: There was only one James Garner as Bret Maverick, and Mel Gibson ain't even close.
Let me give you a clue, Mel: the secret to Garner's Maverick was in his voice more than his face. Garner had an incredible voice (try watching Maverick TOS with the picture off). Mel, you aren't even in the same league with Jack Kelly's Bart Maverick, which I thought was excellent. Kelly and Garner were a sort of Yin and Yang that balanced things out week to week.
This Warner movie makes Garner look like he is senile. To clear that up, just watch Space Cowboys, made six years later. Hmmm, I wonder what would have happened if Clint Eastwood had directed Maverick, the movie?
As I have tried to watch this over several days, it just keeps getting worse and worse and worse and worse. It's not just Mel's fault. I can't really blame Alfred Molina, who is a great actor, though I can't for the life of me figure out what his role is in this picture -- who is he and why does he hate Maverick?
I don't like Jodie Foster's cloying over-acting. I have no sympathy for her character, which is not how the original series played the women. Usually, Maverick helps out some lady in distress, though you aren't always sure who that is going to be. Here there is just one obnoxious woman, aside from the bizarre wagon train of ugly missionaries -- what's with that?
So the bulk of the blame must fall to the director, Richard Donner, and the writer, William Goldman. Sorry, Maverick is not Superman, nor Princess Bride, re-set in the wild West.
The Indians speaking in 21st century lingo was close to the last straw. Is this a remake of F Troop in disguise? As I say, it just keeps getting worse and worse. There is no integrity to the script; things just happen for no particular reason, aside from a cheap gag.
Gibson's Maverick doesn't think his way out of trouble, he just sort of stumbles along. Except for his super-human ninja-level fist fighting and Superman-level skill with a pistol. This is Maverick as a cartoon character super hero.
Well, I have watched 1 hour and 20 minutes of the movie, and my movie rating has gradually dropped from 7 to 3. I am afraid if I watch the last 40 minutes, my rating will be minus 1, which is not possible on IMDb.
If I were being paid to write this review for IMDb, I would grit my teeth, take an Alka Seltzer, and do my best to watch the whole thing. As I am not, I will cease this masochistic movie torture.
Let me give other viewers a bit of advice:
If you like this movie version of Maverick, you will love the original TV series F Troop.
If you liked the original TV series Maverick, don't bother with this movie. The only thing the two have in common is the title and the studio.
But do watch Support Your Local Sheriff. That is the closest thing to a Maverick movie, with some great supporting acting by Jack Elam and Bruce Dern, et. al. It is wonderful fun.