The new True Grit is better than the old one, but this redo by the Coen Brothers seems a bit detached. It’s a good movie, not a great one. They don’t change much of the story: Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin) kills 14-year-old Mattie Ross’ (a terrific Hailee Steinfeld) dad for no other reason than he’s a mean bastard. So Mattie tracks down fat, drunk, and one-eyed U.S. marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and hires him to bring Chaney to justice. By the time Rooster fires his gun for the first time, they’ve picked up LaBoeuf (Matt Damon), a Texas Ranger also looking for Chaney. Then their “grand adventure” saddles up, and the Coens’ quick, witty dialogue follows suit. The three stars banter, spar, and trade barbs as they mosey down the trail in pursuit of Chaney. But the pace here is more deliberate scenes don’t jump off the screen like they do in the Coens’ best movies. They shoot True Grit from a winking distance like they’re never quite sure if they’re toying with or embracing the western’s conventions. Truthfully, it’s probably somewhere in between. But their typical disconnection here doesn’t quite fit a genre that’s been so historically earnest.
Director: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Writer: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen and Charles Portis
Producer: Scott Rudin Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Barry Pepper and Hailee Steinfeld