From its first, mournful brass theme, Ed Harris's Appaloosa nails the look and feel of a classic Western. This is an old-style, laconically macho, six-shooting horse opera made with an obvious and unapologetic love of the genre.
Mortensen should certainly do another western, soon. Preferably he should do one with a real sense of danger to go along with all the neat, tidy, highfalutin' honor and decency.
Appaloosa is an archetypal western with touches of the modern buddy comedy. Though it falls short of these classics, it is a little bit Destry Rides Again and a little bit more Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Ambition is a great quality in a filmmaker, especially when it's realized. Yet there is something to be said for just telling a story, and with Appaloosa, Harris does a fine job of it.
Ed Harris reunites with Viggo Mortensen, his co-star in A History of Violence, and the chemistry is easygoing and understated. But he should have left the direction to someone else.