Sunday, 6 July 2014

Pale Rider (1985)

One weakness of my three tier grading system is that the 'Not Recommended' movies range from "I would rather rewatch the Josh Kirby films than this piece of drek" to "eh, it wasn't bad, but there's nothing that I could point to as a reason to check it out".

The last Clint Eastwood film I reviewed fell into the former camp; this one falls into the latter.  It's an okay film, with generally solid performances and some nicely constructed visuals, but it's eminently bland and lacking in tension, like someone took a Sergio Leone western and sucked all the life out of it.

A group of small claims miners are panhandling for gold.  A wealthy businessman whose own mines are running dry is trying to force them out so he can take their claims for himself.  He's stopped short of lethal force so far, but shortly after the movie starts, four of his men are beating seven kinds out hell out of one of the miners he wants out.

Into this situation rides Clint Eastwood.  He beats up all four guys (mainly due to the fact that they wait around to take him on one at a time), then accepts an offer from the miner to come stay with them.

Well, you know that soon enough ol' Clint will be squinting down a gun barrel at the bad guys, and we'll get to that eventually, but first we have a rather drawn out section where he tests the miners resolve to fight, and when when they pass the test, he rides off to take on the enemy all by himself.  I guess he just wanted to know they were worth fighting for, maybe.

Anyway, as I said above, there's a total lack of tension in the film that really hurts it.  Eastwood faces off against a 7 foot man, and you know he's going to win.  Every woman seems to fall in love with him (for not very well justified reasons), including one who is literally young enough to be his grand-daughter.  He guns down men left and right without ever wasting a bullet.  The climactic bad guy never even looks like a threat.

It's just a bit empty, really.

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