The story moves along at a somewhat slow pace, but you have to remember that the pace is used to develop the characters and the storyline. It also helps to enhance the believability of the story, e.g. the waiting for the killers, moving the herd across the plains, etc. Costner's depiction of a violent man trying to shake off his past is perfect. Once he slips his old skin back on, however, the cold-blooded intent with which he seeks out his enemies is played to perfection. He becomes a killer. Duvall's tough-as-nails "Boss" character is memorable as the older, wiser leader of the free-grazing group. He becomes the level that keeps Costner from losing all control throughout the film. The rest of the cast does a superb job. Annette Bening deserves praise for the sheer looks of terror that cross her face in this film. She surprised me in this one.
As it was with the characters, so it is with the action of the movie. It's a very accurate depiction of a gunfight in the Old West. When people shoot, they miss...often. Even the heroes of the film miss their shots frequently. In the late 1800's, guns still weren't up to par with today's standards. Shooting at and missing someone from close proximity was the norm. When a bullet did hit its mark, the target didn't always die instantly. This is shown throughout the fight sequences in this film. At times they are disturbing, which I believe is the whole point of such scenes in this movie. You don't know if you should cheer for the good guys or have pity on the bad ones because of how violent the deaths in this film are.
Many people have called this a traditional Western.Read more ›