At Home, BluRay/DVD Reviews

STAGECOACH – THE TEXAS JACK STORY (Cinedigm)

By • Jan 11th, 2017 •

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Review by Roy Frumkes

It’s fun seeing a minimalist (Trace Adkins) playing against a maximalist (Kim Coates), with Judd Nelson arbitrating. Adkins doesn’t feel like a honed actor; more like a country-Western singer turned actor. And wouldn’t you know it; that’s exactly what he is. Wisely, he keeps it low and within tight parameters, and treading those limits he’s decent. On the far other side of the scale, Kim Coates takes the material and gives it every stretch of interpretation he can unearth. It’s really a ball watching him have fun with the role, and he also has s speech or two that illustrate yet again what a far-reaching and pervasive thing Quentin Tarantino’s use of dialogue has become.

Judd Nelson is terrific without pushing himself, and has several off-screen lines that he delivers perfectly for a disembodied presence. I was glad to see him in this. And Helena Marie as the sadistic accomplice of Coates’ unethical Marshall is a solid screen presence, fortunately, since we have very little insight into who she is or why she’s there. Just a lady terminator thrown into the mix by the screenwriters in an effort to avoid the cliché. But the camera is exceedingly fond of her. I felt something had been cut from her final showdown with Nelson’s character. I needed a bit more satisfaction there.

Don’t know what I expected from this film, actually. The title sounds, and the cover art feels, like its straight-to-disc fate was pre-ordained. There’s something worrisome about the cover, something too familiar and unpromising. But in fact it’s quite a bit better than the 1966 remake of the 1939 John Ford classic, though it’s not really competing with that Red Buttons-Ann-Margret-Slim Pickens-Bing Crosby starrer: no one ever even gets inside a stagecoach! So…the title probably worked against it (that is if the market demographic was even aware that there’d been two previous films with the same name).

The direction by Terry (LONESOME DOVE CHURCH) Miles is good. Feels like some coverage in Act one also went missing, but what’s there is resourcefully handled. The screenplay by Dan Benamor and Matt Williams is particularly good, side-stepping a great many clichés and delivering some memorable lines and surprising narrative twists. I liked the music as well. Both the main themes and the underscore appropriately pumped up the action.

I cared enough for the characters that I became nervous in Act Three. If you’re in a Western mood, this will give you some genre-tampering rewards.

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