Tombstone (1993)

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Tombstone: Directed by George P. Cosmatos, Kevin Jarre. With Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton. A successful lawman’s plans to retire anonymously in Tombstone, Arizona are disrupted by the kind of outlaws he was famous for eliminating.

“A late entry in the western genre when already not too many were being made, this is one of those re-watchable mini-epics, with strong entertainment value. It begins with a bang, an intense shoot-out after some supposedly historical footage narrated by actor Mitchum. We are introduced to The Cowboys, this erau0026#39;s version of the Mafia, led by the charismatic Curly Bill (Boothe). These first few minutes manage to unnerve and surprise the audience right away: we are also introduced to the psychotic gunslinger, Ringo (Biehn), but heu0026#39;s revealed as the most dangerous of the bunch only after the shoot-out, a sleight of hand by the filmmakers – they made him look sympathetic in those early moments while everyone is blasting away and he just stands there looking dazed and bothered. Only afterward do we realize heu0026#39;s a lethal lunatic of the damned – itu0026#39;s a powerful beginning.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eItu0026#39;s amazing how well this film turned out considering all the rumors of a troubled history. Credit must be given to director Cosmatos and the actors. Itu0026#39;s a fairly huge cast, with numerous speaking roles, and everyone seems to have at least one good moment during the story. Then thereu0026#39;s Kilmer as Doc, who is good or great in every scene heu0026#39;s in – this is easily Kilmeru0026#39;s best role. Doc is already sick as the movie begins but he manages to stay in the game to the very end, more dangerous than any 2 cowboys, using supernatural willpower u0026amp; sardonic wit to distract everyone and himself from the fact heu0026#39;s nearly a walking ghost. Russell is just super-solid as Wyatt; he conveys a strength, tapped from unknown sources (whereas Doc draws from within), standing tall when other tough guys quake in the knees. These two make a terrific team; itu0026#39;s not the usual buddy stuff of most pictures. All the supporting cast is fine, including Elliott and Paxton as Wyattu0026#39;s brothers, though there are some overly obvious moments. Earpu0026#39;s on – off relationship with the actress (Delany) has its ups u0026amp; downs, thereu0026#39;s not much room for subtlety as Earpu0026#39;s wife looks on quite upset as Delany strikes another of her bemused expressions. Also, due to the large number of characters, some of their stories have a heavily truncated feel (Priestleyu0026#39;s, for example). The Vista directoru0026#39;s cut special edition DVD has some restored footage to improve this problem. The better scenes are the confrontations between the men, the threats swung high u0026amp; low, and the sheer thrill of watching Russell slap an overweight Billy Bob Thornton silly.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eAnd we have the villains, ah yes, the villains. Iu0026#39;ve already mentioned a couple of them – another one is Lang as Ike Clanton in a deliciously cheesy, hammy yet mesmerizing performance. By the last 3rd of the movie, I was so wishing he would get his – please, someone – Earp, Holliday, anyone ! – blow this bastard away! Ike is one of the great unsung villains of movie history, a tribute to Langu0026#39;s abilities. The conflict in this true-life story stemmed from the notion that there were no real villains. It was a matter of which faction had the rights, based on gun power and political ambition. In other words, the Earps were just making a political power play in the view of some and there was little difference between them and The Cowboys. But this film wastes no time in establishing Wyatt and his brothers as the decent side of the coin and when you have characters like Ike, thereu0026#39;s no mistaking which side are the bad guys. For a different take on this piece of history, check out the original Star Trek episode u0026quot;Spectre of the Gunu0026quot; from u0026#39;68. Oh yeah, there are also other films like the Lancaster – Douglas opus from 1957. But the Gunfight at the OK Corral in u0026quot;Tombstoneu0026quot; was just one set piece out of many.”


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