First of all, let me just say there are few actors I love watching more than Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen. Harris has been overdue for an Oscar since The Truman Show and Mortensen is as gifted as he is easy on the eyes. They are both just waiting for that choice role in that perfect film to put them on the podium. This movie, however, just ain’t it. It is slow, obvious, and aspects of it lean toward the ridiculous.
Appaloosa is a town in crisis. Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons) and his band of lawless ne’er-do-wells have taken control. They rob, rape and murder at will, and when the sheriff and his men come to arrest them, Bragg shoots all three dead. The town needs help, and help comes in the form of Virgil Cole (Harris) and his wingman Everett Hitch (Mortensen). They are professional peace keepers, choosing to use their abilities for good instead of evil. In the process of cleaning up Appaloosa, Virgil takes a fancy to Allison French (Renée Zellweger), a young pianist new to town.
Together Virgil and Everett are like two halves of one man Virgil, the rational and Everett, the emotional, that’s over simplified, but you get the point. One night, Virgil tells Everett that the reason he will never be as good with a gun as Virgil, is that he has feelings.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but I will say the story strays from the really interesting idea of reining in evil to an inexplicably bizarre romantic entanglement. Do we really think two rough-hewn lawmen are sitting around a hotel gabbing about what their girlfriends think of them like two sorority sisters on a Friday night? And as far as girlfriends go, good God, I realize it’s the old west and the women are few and far between, but Everett’s gal could eat an apple through a picket fence and as for Allison…What on earth did Zellweger do to her face? She is absolutely unrecognizable…and not in a good way.
The film is beautiful, but the story falls flat. If you have a hankering for a good western, rent 3:10 to Yuma. This one is a pass. It's a 4.