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Appaloosa

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A decent enough western in the old-school tradition, Appaloosa reunites Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen for the first time since David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence. This time, Harris and Mortensen play hired Wild West lawmen instead of mobster adversaries. Their relaxed, easygoing camaraderie is the best thing in Appaloosa, giving it the timeless quality of a vintage buddy movie like Newman and Redford’s Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Based on the novel by Robert B. Parker, Appaloosa is less a revisionist western than a pastiche of tried-and-true genre classics (Rio Bravo, High Noon, you name it). When Virgil (Harris) and Everett (Mortensen) ride into Appaloosa, it’s only a matter of time before they butt heads — and exchange bullets — with local bad guy Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons in a neat switch from his usual Brit aristocrat roles) and his gang of scruffy varmints. Throwing a temporary monkey wrench into Everett and Virgil’s male-bonding is another recent Appaloosa arrival, widowed coquette Allison (Renee Zellweger). Last year’s 3:10 to Yuma remake remains the more satisfyingly retrograde cowboy flick, but Appaloosa ultimately passes muster as a decent Saturday night popcorn movie. HH 1/2

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