Rated 4.0

At times, Ed Harris’ Appaloosa feels a like a re-worked legend of the mythical Old West—the story of Wyatt Earp and the gunfight at the OK Corral, say, and rather as it might have been viewed while under the influence of latter-day Clint Eastwood and his classic Unforgiven in particular. Harris’ film, which he directed, co-wrote (with R. Knott), and stars in, is no masterpiece, but it is a boldly entertaining take on the old genre, distinguished in particular by its success in seeming old-fashioned and “classic” without losing a certain contemporary bite. Virgil Cole (Harris) is the stern lawman, Wyatt Earp-like, and Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen) is his sidekick/partner. Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons) is the murderously tyrannical ranch boss whom these two pistol-packing “peace-makers” are charged with reining in. The widowed Mrs. French (Renée Zellweger), a Clementinish femme fatale for all three, adds a particularly surprising dimension to the story’s overlapping triangles of fraternal conflict and deflected lust. Its impressive cast notwithstanding, the film thrives more on iconic values in the actors than on their actual performances. Rated R