Archives for posts with tag: Westerns

A cold-blooded killer becomes a family man, but his violent past catches up to him. We’ve seen this film a hundred times. I’m still trying to figure out what was going through Nicolas Cage’s head when he decided to star in “The Old Way” (2023). As only he can, he plays a sometimes exasperated but always calculating father to a tween, capably played by Ryan Kiera Armstrong. This twisted twosome takes a boilerplate Western revenge story in a darker (one might say disturbing) direction. Enjoy Clint Howard as a henchman. If you catch the huge plot hole, you’ll be frustrated.

New Mexico and Old Mexico are both a long way from “Deadwood” and writer/director Walter Hill is lost in the desert in “Dead for a Dollar” (2022). Unlike his iconic cable series that leveraged a compelling story played by relatively unknown actors, this tired Western showdown flick features Willem Dafoe and Christoph Waltz. A bounty hunter and a retired outlaw are destined for a final duel after a bunch of boring window dressing (racial taboos, marital discord, corrupt Mexicans) plays out. The pace is awful and TV-like, as if designed for commercial interruption, and the periodic, semi-sepia haze is perplexing.

There’s something about Richard Farnsworth’s manner that lowers one’s blood pressure significantly. Does it make his films boring? That’s a matter of taste. A longtime Hollywood stuntman, Farnsworth slowly built an acting career, mostly through Westerns, until solidifying his brief stardom with the 1982 Canadian classic, “The Grey Fox.” Based on a turn-of-the-century true story, he plays an aging, post-prison gentleman bandit who takes up train robbery as his new vocation. Farnsworth’s expressive eyes and willing silence are perfect to play a smooth criminal clinging to his identity while making sense of changing times. You’ll gladly hand over your loot.