Director Ron Howard’s lengthy Western is an adaptation of Tom Eidson’s 1995 novel The Last Ride
that feels like a violence-enriched version of John Ford’s The Searchers
. Cate Blanchett stars as fiercely independent New Mexico frontier woman Maggie. She gets a surprise visit from her father (Tommy Lee Jones in long gray hair), who abandoned his family decades ago to live with the Apaches. Maggie runs him off her homestead but soon solicits his help to rescue her kidnapped oldest daughter (Evan Rachel Wood) from a marauding group led by an evil tribal shaman. This graphic, disturbing tale of a volatile daughter-father reunion, human cruelty and the disparity between Christian beliefs and American Indian mysticism is a hit-and-miss affair that sometimes looks better than it plays. Howard’s continuing use of his brother Clint in a minor role briefly pulled me out of the story, a flash-flood rescue scene is poorly realized, and some of the dialogue is weak. That said, the film is still of general interest for the strong of heart.