Ellen, an unknown female gunslinger rides into a small, dingy and depressing prairie town with a secret as to her reason for showing up. Shortly after her arrival, a local preacher, Cort, is thrown through the saloon doors while townfolk are signing up for a gun competition. The pot is a huge sum of money and the only rule: that you follow the rules of the man that set up the contest, Herod. Herod is also the owner, leader, and "ruler" of the town. Seems he's arranged this little gun-show-off so that the preacher (who use to be an outlaw and rode with Herod) will have to fight again. Cort refuses to ever use a gun to kill again and Herod, acknowledging Cort as one of the best, is determined to alter this line of thinking ... even if it gets someone killed ...Written by
More style than substance but good fun as a modern spin on the spaghetti genre
In the Western town of Redemption John Herrod runs everything, they say he gets half of every dollar spent or earned. In order to face his enemies face on he runs an annual quick draw contest where fights battle each other until only one remains. The winner takes home a small fortune the losers leave wounded if they are lucky. Into this contest comes a group of hopefuls including a woman who has personal reasons for signing up.
Looking at the list of names it is evident that the casting director is very good at his/her job as they managed to catch several big names, get several stars who were a few years away from hitting big and also get veteran faces as well. The ensemble of well known faces suits this film as the focus is very much on style and appearance than it is on substance. As a plot it takes the well known genre of the revenge western and makes a sort of pastiche of it. Thus we have the OTT and hyper direction of Rami and gun fights that are delivered with energy and shots that have no bearing to reality.
When I think about the actual plot, it really should bother me more than it does. The plot is pretty thin and contains nothing that you can't see coming from about the first 20 minutes of the film certainly the woman's `secret' will be no mystery to anyone who has seen `Once Upon A Time In The West' which it clearly apes in this regard. What exists in the place of a wider plot is characters and style. The style is fun and energetic and will appeal to fans of Evil Dead etc.
The characters themselves are also pretty good, each has a little back story which helps to fill out the running time without getting too serious. Stone does surprisingly well in the lead, she's no Clint Eastwood but she leads the cast well which is no mean feat when you look at the credits. Hackman is a gleefully good villain even more mean and unrepentant that his character in Unforgiven. Crowe and DiCaprio were both a few years from the levels of stardom they now hold, but both are engaging and enjoyable. The support cast is also full of names and faces you'll recognise either as solid support actors of recent films or older faces. For example Henriksen, David, Sinise, Hingle, Bell and Blossom.
Overall this film might infuriate you if you are looking for a film that has more substance than style, as this is the other way round. However fans of Rami's style and/or revenge westerns will find much to enjoy here. Every time I see it I always find it hard not to get caught up in the atmosphere it creates.
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