Open Range (2003)

This here is a western. There haven't been a torrent of good westerns out of Hollywood of late. This one, in fact, is 10 years old. I don't count Cowboys vs Aliens, and Gunless was more of a Northern. The standard by which I judge modern Westerns is Unforgiven which is 21 years old.

My first fear was that this would be one of the Kevin Costner mistakes. You know what I'm talking about - Robin Hood, The Guardian, Waterworld, etc. The movies where Costner tries to control everything and also make himself the focal point of the movie are too often fraught with disaster. He tries to make his character flawed with a shielded nobility that takes up so much screen time trying to get across that it takes away from the rest of the movie.

Well, good news. Robert Duvall virtually commands the screen while he's on it. While Kevin's character is supposed to be the central character in the script, Kevin manages to direct the movie such that Robert's character commands the focus, and it works out well for all of us. Robert plays the gruff cowboy who commands the respect of the people who work for him while still managing to be somewhat aloof and mysterious.

Kevin's character has a complex past that is presented in one big dump, and we then expect him to be great with a gun and good at killing in general. When the local ranger (played by Michael Gambon) who runs the town they are passing demonstrates a dislike for them, bad things ensue with shooting and hitting and dogs being hurt and/or saved. Fortunately, the hurt people can head to the doctor's house where Annette Bening awaits with bandages and sexual tension.

The acting was great
The direction was great
The story was very good
The dialogue was good
The movie in general was very good

4.0/5

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