I was hot to see this film when it first came out. I missed it for whatever reason and finally caught up with it this weekend. It's 2 hours in duration, of which an hour and half is slow, preposterously scripted, and short of powerful dialogue. I was so frustrated with the lack of anything quality in the film that by the 40 minute mark -- I wanted out. Even Russell Crowe and Christian Bale weren't bringing much to the picture. But again, the screenplay is to blame, not them.
I forced myself to watch on. Strangely, I got some satisfaction out of being shocked by the ridiculous story I was expected to buy into. The film never explained why the railroad was so intent on bringing this guy in alive - especially at the cost of countless innocent lives. Or why the veterinarian would shun two men for "mistreating a prisoner" then slug one of them with a shovel -- how does that makes sense morally? Anyway, I found the film a scripting mess up until the last 15 minutes. At which time, the production steps up and shines. It finally made an impact and became the powerful western I'd expected it to be. It still gave me something hard to believe, but began delivering it with enough passion and quality that I was moved to believe.
I would have rated this film ˝ a star out of 4, but that ending knocked the picture up a full star. In fact, as a writer, I was left wanting to go back and rewrite the first two acts to be worthy of that ending.
-- Books by Author/Illustrator Ross Anthony --