Open Range (8/10 Rating)
Released August 15, 2003
Streaming on Amazon Prime. For rent/purchase on all major platforms.
Genre: Action, Drama, Romance, Western
Four cowboys find themselves defending their cattle and their lives when they encounter a corrupt lawman and the kingpin rancher that controls a small town on the outskirts of their path. These men are cowboys in the more literal sense, freely grazing their livestock across the vast prairies of the West. That does not mean we don’t get some talented gunslingers and exciting shootouts, but it does take us a little longer to get to the action. Kevin Costner (Yellowstone) stars and directs, this only being his third feature of the latter. His debut as a Director, Dances with Wolves, won 7 academy awards, including Best Actor and Best Director. However, his next film, The Postman, is widely regarded as a failure. Open Range seems to get lost in between somewhere when it comes to appreciating the filmmaking. This is a great movie and better yet, a great Western. Does it have as much action as Tombstone or something similar? No, but it takes the time to build characters and relationships with its audience and the final showdown is well worth the wait. There are some great performances here, including Robert Duvall (The Godfather), who Costner intended the role of Boss Spearman for, so much that had he not accepted it, the film may not have been made. Costner himself plays a man with a dark past, having served in the Civil War. There are some references to PTSD, which are rarely seen in the Western Genre and more often brought up with more recent wars. The protagonists are good men and easy to cheer for. Likewise, the villains are easy to hate. It is not difficult to pick a side and the ending will leave you satisfied. While a little off pace, there is a bit of romance, making this a good date night movie, especially for fans of Yellowstone looking to see Costner in another Western. Most of the movie goes for accuracy, but keep an eye out for some endless ammo during the shootouts. Supposedly, Costner did this on purpose and had always wanted to fan a six-gun over the realistic amount. If you can be patient with a film, give this one a watch and enjoy the payoff.
Also released in August 2003: American Wedding, Freaky Friday, Freddy vs. Jason, American Splendor, Thirteen, Jeepers Creepers 2 (follow @jlucia85 for these reviews and more)