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Open Range (2003)

No place to run. No reason to hide.

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 139 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 12a


Kevin Costner likes an overly-long western – we’ve all worked that out by now. In fact, he likes an overly-long western almost as much as he likes post-apocalyptic dross. So it’s no major shockerooney that ‘Open Range’, his fourth and most recent attempt at mastering this director’s chair malarkey (if you count his uncredited work on ‘Waterworld’), is a bloated, two-hour-plus cowboy movie.

It’s the wild wild west, and chewed-up free-grazing cow-pokes Boss Spearman (Robert Duvall) and Charley Waite (Costner) find themselves on the wrong side of crooked rancher Denton Baxter (Michael Gambon) when their herd of milkers winds up on his land. Before long Baxter and an equally-bent sheriff (James Russo) are up to all sorts of dirty tricks in an attempt to drive this couple of wrinklies out of the vicinity – and it looks like our weather-beaten heroes will need to start taking the law into their own hands if there’s to be any justice in these here parts.

It’s a decent enough story, and it’s padded out by a believable if uninspiring romance between Costner and the customary local singleton (played with a look of slight boredom by Annette Bening). But why Cozzers forces the thing to drag on for quite so long is simply beyond this critic’s comprehension. It moves at a snail’s pace, and suffers from total overkill on the emotional speech front (I lost count of the number of times the camera gradually moved on Duvall as he recited yet ANOTHER piece of sagely advice about the true meaning of friendship or the love of a good woman) What should have been a reasonably entertaining western with some nice scenery and a decent shoot-out climax turns into nothing more than a complete and utter chore to watch.

It's Got: Melted chocolate, and some subliminal confectionary in the form of a lead character who’s name sounds a bit like “spearmint.”

It Needs: Wagon Wheels (the jammy ones are best).

DVD Extras A documentary on ‘America’s Open Range’, some deleted scenes, a featurette on the process of storyboarding, and a music vid called ‘Broken Wagon’. DVD Extras Rating: 5/10


Proof, if ever it was required, that the Ol’ West did indeed stretch on… and on… and on… and on…