tek's rating: ¾

The Quick and the Dead (R)
IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; Sony Pictures; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; iTunes; Movies Anywhere; Vudu; YouTube

I've wanted to see this ever since it came out in 1995, but I didn't get around to it until 2015. It was directed by Sam Raimi, and it's got a great cast. Apparently it didn't do well financially, and only slightly better critically. But I definitely liked it, and I'm really glad to have finally seen it.

Sometime in the Old West, a woman (Sharon Stone) rides into the town of Redemption, and the movie wastes no time in establishing her badassdom. Throughout the movie, she's only referred to as "the Lady," though the end credits call her "Ellen." (If her name was ever spoken, I never heard it, but I think she's supposed to be a woman with no name, kind of like a certain man with no name.) Redemption is run by an outlaw named John Herod (Gene Hackman), whom the Lady has come to town to kill. Throughout the movie, we'll see flashbacks to a tragic event in her childhood, so it's obvious that she wants revenge for the death of her father, the former marshal of Redemption. Meanwhile, there's a gunfighting competition being held in town, which the Lady enters. Of course Herod is also in the competition. And there are like 14 other competitors, I guess, though most of them we don't get to know particularly well. One of them is a guy named Cort (Russell Crowe), who used to ride with Herod's gang, but some time ago he quit to become a preacher. Herod's goons have now burned down his mission and dragged him back to Redemption, where he's forced to participate in the contest, in spite of his resolve to avoid violence. Another competitor is a young man called "the Kid" (Leonardo DiCaprio), who claims to be Herod's son, and just wants to earn his respect as a gunfighter. However, it's unclear whether Herod is really his father. Also, all the whores in town seem to be fans of the Kid, one of them in particular (though we don't know her name and she's of no importance to the plot). The Kid takes an immediate interest in the Lady, though she doesn't particularly like him. She's just focused on her revenge. There's a "gentleman adventurer" named Sgt. Clay Cantrell (Keith David), and a braggart gunfighter named "Ace" Hanlon (Lance Henriksen), and a Native American named Spotted Horse, and... I think those were the only ones of any interest to me. Also, the Lady is staying in a room at the saloon, which is run by a guy named Horace (Pat Hingle), who has a daughter named Katie (Olivia Burnette). Katie took an interest in the Lady, the first female gunfighter she's ever seen, though the Lady at least pretends not to care about Katie. Also there was a kid who shined shoes and sold all sorts of wares, and I got the impression he might be blind, but honestly I couldn't tell for sure. And there was an old doctor played by Roberts Blossom (the old guy from "Home Alone").

Anyway... the contest is set up in several brackets; each day one of the competitors can challenge any other competitor, and the challenge has to be accepted. Partway through the competition, Herod changes the rules for each fight from "last man standing" to "last man alive," which is particularly a problem for Cort and the Lady, neither of whom want to kill anyone (except Herod himself, of course). And I don't really want to reveal anything about how it all turns out. But as I said, I liked it. Probably more than any critics liked it, and certainly more than I like some movies that are more critically acclaimed. It's not perfect, but... I found it entertaining enough, and I cared about the protagonist, and... I liked the sort of feminist vibe inherent in the (unfortunately) uncommon plot of a female gunfighter. And I guess that's all I can think to say.

westerns index