Efficient tale of fractured family set in the Old West.
OPENS MARCH 12, CERT 15, 137 MINS
The year is 1885, and Cate Blanchett is hard-as-nails frontier widow Maggie, raising two young daughters in the American southwest. The arrival of Maggie’s estranged father, Samuel (Tommy Lee Jones), who’d abandoned his family 20 years earlier to live as a Native American, coincides with rogue Apaches slaughtering her farm hands and kidnapping her eldest daughter Lily (Evan Rachel Wood). Father and daughter attempt to put their differences aside and effect a rescue before her captors take her to Mexico.
As you’d expect from director Ron Howard, this is efficiently assembled and well-paced, but isn’t the dark, Fordian western he’d dearly love it to be, and the family therapy subtext is pure Oprah. The film’s strengths lie with the two leads: Blanchett is excellent as ever, mastering her frontierswoman accent with ease, while Jones’ role as a grizzled semi-shaman searching for redemption fits him like a glove. In the end, good, solid?if unsurprising?entertainment.