Judge David Johnson has six reasons why this cerebral Western can't quite stick the landing.
Draw first, ask later.
Four gunslingers have their guns pointed at each other, fingers on the trigger, the burned landscape of the Badlands behind them. Each man has his own story of how he ended up in the predicament. One guy's an entrepreneur looking to build a monorail, another is out for vengeance, another's a man on the run and, well, another guy with vengeance on the mind. And there's a horse, too.
Look, I have a confession: this was as difficult a movie to follow as I've ever watched. I'm fairly certain I've got the gist of what transpired in the interminable 89 minutes from the opening scene where we first meet our gunslingers to the final, violent fusillade, but no promises, okay? Six Reasons Why is a dense affair, told in a non-linear fashion, that would likely require multiple viewing to fully take in what the writing/directing team of the Campagna brothers were after and, frankly, the thought of sitting through it once more is a bleak proposition.
So it's definitely not the action-packed type of Western that the disc-case marketing makes it sound like ("One cowboy stands against bloodthirsty gunslingers in the lawless west"). We're talking cerebral, dialogue-heavy—and I mean heavy—character-driven drama that feels less like a Western and more like an off-Broadway play.
Which I suppose would be fine if the actual entertainment Six Reasons Why provided was, you know, entertaining. This is a brutal, tedious experience, sporting a handful of memorable lines that are overwhelmed by dialogue that does not end and scenes that appear to be inflated to pad the runtime. The lethargic pacing is a real killer and not even the flashbacks—which usually can be depended upon to spice a narrative up—fail to deliver the punch to keep the narrative rolling. I ultimately came to resent this film.
Enough belly-aching. Let's wrap this up on a positive note. Despite their low budget, the Campagna brothers have crafted a gorgeous looking film. There's a real comic book sensibility to the how scenes are staged, with sequences looking like they've been ripped straight from a set of comic frames. The split-screen work at the very end during the actual shoot-out is evidence of that.
Alas, the cinematography is not enough to compensate for what is essentially an impenetrable, overly-talkative experiment.
The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen is a winner and brings the scenery to vivid life. A 5.1 surround mix is available, though the center channel will have the most to do. Extras: the commentary track, cast and crew interviews and a three-part making-of documentary focusing on pre-production, production and post-production.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.