The Quick and the Dead This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

December 25, 2009
Sam Raimi, director of this picture, is very well-known throughout the film community for being insanely over-the-top, with his first picture The Evil Dead being a perfect example of this. Therefore, upon hearing he directed this film, I had some good hopes for this movie as the film IS supposed to be a tribute to spaghetti westerns - an over-the-top genre of Western, with the most notable entry being The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly .

The film follows, in an interesting first, a female gunslinger, Ellen, who "happens" to ride into the town of Redemption. From the start,western fans will be able to catch the shout-outs to westerns like Leone's, such as the tribute to the opening of A Fistful of Dollars. Later on, the audience is informed that a deadly game takes place in this small town, one where death and a fast hand are the two primary characteristics. We're then introduced to many-a-gunslingers, each having their own distinct - yet still over-the-top - personality such as Reverend Cort or "The Kid".

Raimi does indeed capture the look of a spaghetti western, but he misses the "heartbeat", if you will, of what those films were about. For, while this film is a western, it never at any point really FEELS like one. Instead, it feels like a fantasy world that just happens to have Western overtones, despite historical figures being named occasionally. This may be because of how over-the-top the film actually is.

Spaghetti westerns are known for their over-the-top style ala long, slow showdowns, a gritty look, etc. However, Raimi goes so overboard that the film goes to becoming ridiculously cheesy - especially in the scenes right before a gunfight. The combatants will either get WAY too many close-up shots or they'll spout some Street Fighter-like smack talk. Ugh...

There are also some rather large plot-holes in the film. Why do these gunslinger competitions go on? Why isn't obvious that Herod, the mayor and champion, is too difficult to take down alone? Why not just assassinate him? Why does The Kid, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, think that killing his father will make his father RESPECT him? If these weren't bad enough, there isn't really that much dramatic conflict either. No, instead of focusing on the arguments or actions of these characters, we're given gunfighting. Not complaining about the gunfights, because they do look nice, it's just that it feels rather shallow as a replacement for dramatic conflict.

On the plus side, though, the cinematography is stunning. Whoever was behind the camera here really knew what he was doing, as the film captured the bleak and gritty look of Leone's pictures wonderfully. In fact, I'd have like to have seen less of Redemption - which didn't look all that great - simply because of how well the environment looks.

There are some good performances in here, despite the cheesiness of the movie. Sharon Stone does pretty well as a female gunslinger, though she seemed she was trying really hard to emulate Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name style. This style doesn't work well, though, if the character's background is revealed, as the mystery of the character loses its edge. Russel Crowe has an interesting role, as a preacher/former gunslinger who must return to violence and Gene Hackman made a great villain, even if his lines were the most cheese-filled.

Though the substance isn't all that great, the style is does really well. It's definitely not a pretty good movie, but there's still some enjoyment to be had. A rather worthy effort at a tribute to the great Westerns made by the likes of Leone.

6/10 - Fair

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