The meek shall inherit the Earth, Mr. Dunnison, but somebody's got to
get it ready for them."
Leander McNelly, defending his violent methods to his second in command.
"Go with God, McNelly, if the son of a bitch will have you!"
Bandit John King Fisher's farewell to the lead Texas Ranger.
"Man, if the studio had made a print of 'Ocean's 11' available in time,
I wouldn't have to do a feature review about this drivel."
Ed Johnson-Ott, exasperated movie reviewer.
After sitting on the shelf for a long, long time, "Texas Rangers" was
finally released last Friday, dumped into theaters with no sneak
previews or press screenings and with hardly any money spent on ads.
This is generally the sign of a cinematic disaster, as a desperate
studio tries to burn off a dud without anyone noticing, but "Texas
Rangers" is no disaster. It's simply a crappy Western.
Like "Billy Jack," "Texas Rangers" is about men who try to gain peace
for all by killing lots and lots of people. Specifically, the film
focuses on a revenge-killing spree done by Johnny Law along the border
between Texas and Mexico in 1875.
The most entertaining thing about the film is that it gathers together
four TV stars that, despite their cowboy trappings, act exactly the way
they normally do on their respective series. Dylan McDermott ("The
Practice") plays the Rangers leader, a sullen ex-preacher with a fatal
disease and a tendency towards ponderous speechifying. James Van Der
Beek ("Dawson's Creek") is Lincoln Rogers Dunnison, a bookish sort prone
to intellectualizing and wearing hats to try and cover his massive
forehead. Robert Patrick ("The X Files") is a salt of the earth type
trying to play by the book and Ashton Kutcher ("That 70's Show") plays a
giddy, eager kid tripping over his own feet.
Does any of this sound familiar?
The Texas Rangers are re-formed by McNelly after a string of assaults by
bad hombre John King Fisher (Alfred Molina of "The Ladies Man," chewing
up scenery like wild) and his banditos. Following a great number of
inspirational speeches and extended training sessions for the new guys,
they light out after Fisher. Shots of galloping cowboys superimposed
over maps depict their journey. The filmmakers clearly love this visual,
as they return to it again and again. Or maybe they didn't have any
other usable footage.
The production features the stirring music and beautiful landscapes one
expects from a Western, but not much else. Its herky-jerky feel suggests
that the film was heavily edited, but again, there is nothing overtly
disastrous here, just a lame cowboy movie that doesn't warrant your
attention. Or mine.
Copyright © 2001 Edward Johnson-Ott