Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen team up again for a winner; remember "A History of Violence" (2005) when Viggo was a former mobster hiding out in a small town and Ed Harris showed up with a scarred face to extract some revenge? Evidently Ed Harris remembered that film because he directed "Appaloosa" and hired his old buddy to partner with him in this throwback Western.
It's an authentic Western in the same sense as Clint Eastwood's "Unforgiven" (1992). Even has a meaningful outhouse scene; don't see that caliber of authenticity very often. One can also tell if a Western is trying to be true to the times by paying close attention to the guns and the distinct sounds made by a Colt .45, Winchester 30-30 and shotgun.
In this movie, Everett Hitch (Mortensen) carries an 8 gauge shotgun and he ain't scared to shoot a bad guy at close range if needed. An 8 gauge shotgun is so big that it made Mortensen looked like he was carrying a pipe with some wood on the end of it. I don't think I've ever seen an 8 gauge shotgun; one of my crazy cousins use to hunt geese with a 10 gauge, but that's as close as I've ever come to a 8 gauge until this movie.
Virgil Cole (Harris) and Everett Hitch are hired lawmen circa 1882 to "clean up" a town that is terrorized by a rancher (Jeremy Irons) who killed the City Marshall before our heroes come to town. And our heroes are veterans of the Civil War and other "peace making" adventures while wearing a badge.
Once they get the badge pinned on their chest, they are the law. The good and bad guys either follow the rules of Virgil Cole and his shotgun-carrying sidekick or they get their butt kicked or killed; don't make no difference.
Every good Western has to have a Miss Kitty with a narrow waist and fancy clothes with an eye for the men and the ability to drink a little whiskey and in this movie she looks just like Renee Zellweger. Ok, it is Zellweger and she is the perfect little sassy lass who has learned to survive in the badlands of the U.S. Territories by doing what she has to do to get a new house and hold onto a man because she's "gets lonely."
The new City Marshall (Cole) is sweet on her even though Zellweger's character sometimes gets her loyalties confused. However, the theatrical balance between Ed Harris, Jeremy Irons, Viggo, and Renee is perfectly juggled and harnessed by Director and Co-writer Ed Harris. And the acting is outstanding.
I've always been a big admirer of the actor Ed Harris but did not know he was a big-time director and writer. I guess that makes him the new Clint Eastwood.
If you like a Westerns and find yourself complaining that they "just don't make any good Westerns anymore," then stop complaining and go see this very well-done movie. Rock 'n Roll.