Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Quick and the Dead (1995)
Dir. Sam Raimi
Staring Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, Leonardo Dicaprio, Kieth David, Lance Henriksen

An unknown woman (Stone) enters the town of Redemption to enter a quick shot competition ran by the town's mayor and former outlaw John Herrod (Hackman)

Here's a movie that started out as a homage to spaghetti westerns, only it got twisted up along the way. Once it got a star/producer attached in Sharon Stone, who was hot off of Basic Instinct, things got weird. First she insisted that the director of a movie she just saw, Army of Darkness, be the director. She also choose Russell Crowe as the costar after seeing him in Romper Stomper, and she was so sure about the casting of DiCaprio that she paid his salary herself after Sony refused to cast him. This is a great sign of dedication to a project by a star, and unfortunately the released film went on to bomb at the box office, ultimately finding and audience on home video and through television airings.

The best thing about this film is the cast, especially the actors in the supporting roles. They add a lot of flair to the film. I could watch an entire film based on Keith David’s Sgt. Clay Cantrell. He’s just fun, and he livens the film up when he’s on screen. The same thing can be said about Lance Henriksen’s Ace Hanlon. Both of these roles are fun, and the actors seem to know that they are stickily there to give the first half of the film some flair, since you know that the leads are going to make it to the end of the film. Really the casting of this film is great.

Sharon Stone is good as the mysterious woman that leads the film, and he works well in a way that most females don't usually in other westerns. She's able to convincingly look rough, but still be attractive, so it makes sense when Herrod and Kid both show interest in her. And I will say this, Leonardo Dicaprio is pretty good in the movie, but he's nowhere near as good or off the rails crazy as he is in Django Unchained, granted he's playing a completely different type of character in a film with a completely different tone. But the thing that holds the film together is Gene Hackman's Herrod, the villain. He manages to be bad and evil, but somewhat likeable. Another thing about Gene Hackman is his ability to elevate the material, and make the character more than just a one note bad guy. His scenes with Keith David are a highlight of the film, and most of their scenes are just the two of them sitting down and talking to each other.

In terms of direction, it’s more like Army of Darkness and Darkman than Raimi’s Spider-man films. But it works, and at times it gives the film a fun feeling, similar to the fun gore moment of the Evil Dead films. It works as a bridge from the more manic earlier Raimi films to the more subdued later Raimi films like the Spider-man trilogy*. Dante Spinotti shot the film, and it looks great. The camera work and editing are full of great shots and cuts, and it helps the movie move at a quick pace.

I'll say this, I like this movie a lot. It’s light and fun, and it moves at a quick pace. I'm not going to sit here and call it a classic or one of the greatest movies ever, but it's fun and entertaining. And sometimes that's all that matters. I'd recommend it. 

*Aside from the Doctor Octopus origin scene in Spider-man 2, there isn't really anything that just leaps out as being like the earlier Evil Dead era Raimi stuff. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it just shows how much he had grown as a director and that scene, along with the film Drag Me to Hell showed how easily it was for him to slip back into that frame of mind when the scene or film called for it.

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