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Open Range

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Open Range

Starring: Kevin Costner, Annette Bening
Director: Kevin Costner
Rated: R
RunTime: 135 Minutes
Release Date: August 2003
Genres: Western, Action, Drama

*Also starring: Robert Duvall, Abraham Benrubi, Alexis Cerkiewicz, Lorette Clow, James Russo, Patricia Stutz, Rod Wilson, Michael Gambon, Michael Jeter, Diego Luna, Dean McDermott

Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

Kevin Costner's career has been in a freefall for what seems like just about forever. Will OPEN RANGE, in which he directs and costars with Robert Duvall, be what it takes finally to get his career in ascendance once again? Sadly, it probably won't. But it should.

A classic western tale set in the 1880s, the movie is not only one of the best of the few Westerns made recently, it's also one of the finest Westerns, period. It's a straightforward tale about the need for frontier justice when there is none other available. The sound effects editing are awesome, making you literally feel the power of the old firearms. It's also quite honest in showing their inaccuracies. Shooting, even at close range, doesn't mean you will necessarily hit the target, or anything for that matter.

When we meet Boss Spearman (Duvall) and Charley Waite (Costner), they are a couple of free grazers -- cattle owners who legally let their cattle graze on open pastures that they don't own -- who are passing nearby a very inhospitable town run by a evil rancher named Denton Baxter (Michael Gambon). When Denton and his men cause serious harm to come to Mose (Abraham Benrubi) and Button (Diego Luna), the lovable, big bear of a man and the wisp of a young lad who work for Boss, Boss and Charley go back into town to make things right. Since Denton owns the local sheriff (James Russo), Boss and Charley are forced to resort to their guns to dispense their own rough justice.

Before things get seriously out of hand, and even after they do, Boss and Charley demonstrate what good friends are like. They share long held secrets and keep a few until the end, which turns into a classic confrontation rather like GUNFIGHT AT THE O.K. CORRAL or HIGH NOON. Along the way, the two men show genuine warmth and concern for each other, while respecting each other's need for privacy. They are quite funny too, such as the time when they decide that they have a grudge against God for what has happened to Mose and Button. Another humorous incident is an hilarious twist on a dead man's last request.

The cinematography is gorgeous, the sound effects of the thunder, the rain and the gunfire are outstanding and the story is touching and heartfelt. About the film's only flaw is a needless romance involving Annette Bening as a doctor's assistant and relative. Bening is excellent in a part that would have been better left unwritten. The film also goes on about ten minutes past a perfect ending point. These points are both nits, and the film is wonderful as released. If you've ever loved a Western, you're going to want to see OPEN RANGE.

OPEN RANGE runs 2:15. It is rated R for "violence" and would be acceptable for kids around 12 and up.

Copyright 2003 Steve Rhodes

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