a critiQal film review The Quick and the Dead (1995)

Plot: . A mysterious young woman (Stone) rides into the lawless town of Redemption to settle an old score that has haunted her since she was a child. She becomes swept up in a deadly quick-draw tournament and, in order to win her revenge, must compete in a contest in which gunslingers from all over put their lives on the line for fame and fortune.

Reviewed
459 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 17s)

I vaguely remember hearing something about this star-studded western called The Quick and the Dead way back when it was released, but had never actually gotten around to checking it out. With our recent subscription to NetFlix®, however, the film came back into my mind while I was perusing titles to watch on my television.

With a cast that includes Sharon Stone (back when she was popular), Russell Crowe, Leonardo DiCaprio and Gene Hackman, among others, would this western stack up favorably against Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven (1992) (the western by which I judge all other “new” westerns)? Or would The Quick and the Dead be just another disappointment?

Sharon Stone in the 90’s was a hit-or-miss proposition. Either she was fun to watch (Basic Instinct (1992), Total Recall (1990)) or she was not acting, but using her body to draw in viewers (Sliver, etc.). The Quick and the Dead is just about her only role where she doesn’t flash her body to viewers – instead, she tries to rely on her acting skills to keep the viewer interested. Unfortunately, she’s shaky on that ground in The Quick and the Dead, ranging from believable to cheesy and back again frequently. The viewer is never quite sure if she’s hamming it up or she’s trying to play the character seriously, and the film suffers for it.

Hackman is basically re-playing his character from Unforgiven (1992), but in The Quick and the Dead, he seems to beef up that villainy to the point where he is nearly spoofing his previous attempt at the character. Thankfully, he stops short of that point, but that extra bit he does give to the character makes him a lot less menacing than in Unforgiven (1992).

Russell Crowe, on the other hand, does a good job in his role in The Quick and the Dead as the stereotypical pacifist thrust back into fighting against his will. Sure, he doesn’t stray too far from the formula, but he’s still actually entertaining to watch, and does nothing but help the film.

While the other famous faces also do decent jobs in their roles in The Quick and the Dead, director Sam Raimi keeps them well within the bounds of his stereotypical western. Sadly, this makes for a less interesting film, since the viewer already knows what’s going to happen even as the film starts, and there are no surprises at all. Thankfully, his camera angles and fast-paced story keep the viewer from tuning out completely.

While the star-studded cast has much more talent than they are allowed to showcase in The Quick and the Dead, Sam Raimi keeps them in check in this by-the-numbers western. Decent enough to rent, but don’t buy it – one viewing is plenty for this one.

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